Heikki Kovalainen believes that Team Lotus must focus on improving its reliability record in the final eight races of the season, not only for success this year but also to ensure that it's ready to take a step forward next year.
Lotus has suffered eight retirements in 11 races this season, including a double DNF in the last race in Hungary, and wants to ensure that all such problems are troubleshooted so that they don't affect next year's car and its development.
"Our reliability has been poor this season, so to get the car more reliable toward the end of the season has got to be one of the main targets," Kovalainen said. "I think we had the worst reliability in the whole of the paddock so that's something that needs to be fixed for next season.
"In a way, it was expected because we had a new engine, a new gearbox, a new rear end and the failures that we have had has been to do with [adapting to] that. But we are getting through the problems now and I don't expect those small issues to be there next year. Off the shelf, it has to be more reliable and there's a good opportunity to do this because of all of our work this year. It takes time, but next year we will not have this excuse and we should be more reliable."
Kovalainen has not ruled out the possibility of the team climbing into contention in the midfield in the coming races, although admitted that it is difficult to close the gap once you fall behind.
"We have got to set our targets high and we are working all of the time to move closer," he said. "In testing, we looked closer, but when people brought updates to Melbourne, we dropped back a bit. We are still growing and it's difficult to catch up once you are behind, especially for a new team. But we should be able to gain relative to other people because we are coming from further behind. We targeted the midfield, but it remains to be seen if it will work like that."