Hispania Racing Team boss Colin Kolles believes his squad would have been a match for fellow F1 start-ups Lotus and Virgin if it had signed more experienced drivers for its debut season.
The squad was generally the slowest in the field this year, though it beat Virgin to 11th in the constructors' championship on the tiebreaker of best race results.
Hispania started the year with rookies Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok, and while later recruits Sakon Yamamoto and Christian Klien had previous Formula 1 experience, Lotus fielded two grand prix winners in Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, and Virgin's lead driver Timo Glock had the benefit of two full seasons with Toyota's works team plus a partial campaign with Jordan in 2004.
Kolles pointed out that Hispania had achieved impressive reliability compared to its nearest rivals, and argued that once all three new teams were running similarly inexperienced drivers in the Abu Dhabi rookie tests, the times were much closer.
"It was a difficult year but we were the most reliable new team," he said. "I think the only reason we did not finish 10th is that teams like Lotus and Virgin had more experienced drivers during the whole season. I think that in testing we showed quite a good performance in relation to the other new teams."
He added that after the preseason upheaval that led to the squad changing from its proposed Campos setup to its eventual form as Hispania, the focus for 2010 had just been on getting to the end of the year and gathering mileage.
"We improved over the season," said Kolles. "Reliability was the first objective. We learned a lot and hope that, from now on, we can concentrate more on improving the performance."
With Toyota having recently announced that a deal for it to provide Hispania's 2011 chassis had fallen through, the team may have to rely on an updated version of its 2010 car next year. But it has secured a continuation of its Cosworth engine supply, and will receive transmission systems from Williams, which Kolles is confident will lead to an upturn in form.
"It cannot be wrong to have a package which proved to be in Q3 on a regular basis in qualifying," he said.