Romain Grosjean believes Lotus has taken another step closer towards producing the weekend-long form it needs to take a breakthrough victory, and that this weekend's European Grand Prix in Valencia will be one of its best chances to win yet.
Despite Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen being front-runners in many races this year, Lotus is not among the five teams that have already won in 2012. But after his charge to second place in Canada, and with Valencia expected to produce the sort of hot conditions in which Lotus has thrived this year, Grosjean is very optimistic about his chances.
"It's always difficult to make predictions before you've done free practice or even qualifying," he said. "Things can change quite quickly but on paper we are looking good here. The car is good, it's hot and that's a good point for us. Hopefully we can keep this advantage and the other teams didn't find a way to make it work when it's too hot, and we can have a good chance."
Lotus has not always been able to qualify well this year, forcing Grosjean and Raikkonen to charge through the field on race day, but also leaving them hard-pressed to get right to the front from lowly starting positions. Grosjean reckons the team is closing on a solution to its lack of one-lap pace.
"We have learned a few things from Bahrain especially and Canada as well about the different compounds, and hopefully we can try to get everything in place here to have the best possible qualifying and then another good race," he said.
He denied that improving the Lotus E20's single-lap performance risked damaging the tire-friendly attributes that is key to its Sunday form.
"It's possible to have a good car in qualy and then a good car in the race," Grosjean said. "I hope I'm not wrong and that on Saturday we can show that we are working toward getting a podium in the race. We need to still carry race pace and be better in qualifying."
Grosjean emphasized that despite not winning yet this year, Lotus was very pleased with its competitiveness and getting better and better.
"I'm happy and surprised about how the season is going. The team did a good car, which is mandatory to be able to achieve some good results. Then I did some good races," he said.
"It was Barcelona where I said we did a step forward, and maybe Canada was another one. With these small steps, when you put one with another, then you are more ready to do that perfect weekend and get the win."