Lotus owner Gerard Lopez says his team is ready to prove itself as a front-runner in Formula 1 this year, based on the form it has shown at the start of the season.
Although neither Kimi Raikkonen nor Romain Grosjean have yet finished on the podium, Lopez is convinced that the E20 has the potential to be battling pacesetters McLaren.
"I always said that once we lost Robert [Kubica], we lost one year – so we are one year behind schedule," said Lopez. "The schedule was never that we were going to win the World Championship by a set date, but it was to have a good stable team to compete for it. If it [winning] happens or not depends on a lot of things, but the situation we are in is a good one.
"Everyone is pushing in the right direction, and the car is quick, there is no question about it. We are also going to push harder because we have a very aggressive development program, and we want to keep things tight with everyone around us. I would venture that we are slightly slower than McLaren, even though Kimi says he has speed to go for pole in Malaysia but made two small mistakes.
"I think we are right up there, probably just a little bit behind McLaren but as far as everybody else goes, we are probably as good as them if not slightly in front of them."
Lopez says he is as eager as the rest of the team for a weekend not blighted by the kinds of incidents or penalties that have hurt the team's race chances so far this year.
"We now have a phrase: 'a normal weekend,'" he said. "We've coined that term at Lotus, whether it is Kimi, Alan Permane, Eric [Boullier] or myself. We talk about normal weekends. It will be both cars not having to change anything and going for it. I think Romain is quite keen to prove himself. He has the speed, but he wants to show he has the race craft too.
"If we have a normal weekend we can show where our pace is, and score big points. I think we are happy."