Nick Heidfeld thinks Lotus Renault GP can be fighting right at the front of Formula 1 this season, after feeling that the team underperformed in the first three races of the campaign.
Although Heidfeld and teammate Vitaly Petrov have both scored podium finishes this year, they have not been regularly near the top of the order and did not score as many points as their car was capable of. Heidfeld is confident, however, that improvements that are in the pipeline, as well as a better understanding of the mistakes it has made, should see Renault better able to maximize its performances over the remainder of the season.
"I think we have learned quite a bit, not just from China but from the first three races, because there was a bit more time to investigate and understand," explained the German. "Obviously, we found places where we could improve, but on the other side it also seems that we have done some good races, and got some good results with the two podiums.
"There is definitely room for improvement, though, and personally I am not really happy with the amount of points we scored as a team in the first three races. I think the potential was clearly there for more.
"I am very happy if I look at the calendar that there have only been three races, and that there are so many more to come because I believe that I can score a lot better and higher consistently. That should bring me in a good championship position, and also the team especially, to fight with the big guns."
On the basis that the Renault R31 has been quick on different tracks like Albert Park and Sepang, Heidfeld sees no reason why the squad cannot aim for consistent good performances throughout the campaign.
"I have a positive feeling that our car should suit all circuits," he said. "But I am not 100 percent sure that the car will be as good as it was on low-speed tracks, because it really was very good in the last one or two years there. That will be interesting to find out.
"We have a good top speed, of course, which can help with the high-speed circuits, but I think it is pretty balanced at the moment. I am not focusing so much on that, I am more looking forward and hoping for the updates to work.
"We have a reasonable package here, but we know and see there is more potential to come. We see in the wind tunnel that there are some new directions, some bigger steps and bigger changes, obviously, and you obviously want things to move quicker. But on the other side, if you look at the development speed of Renault, I think it is already very good and you always want more."