Marussia believes flashes of speed from its new MR01 over the Australian Grand Prix weekend will be enough for it to feel its season is back on track, as it bids to put the troubles of the past few weeks behind it.
With the team having missed its chance to join pre-season testing because of a failed crash test, it openly admits that it will face an uphill battle to get on top of reliability issues in the opening races. However, with hopes high that the new MR01 is a big step forward over its 2011 car, team chiefs are seeking immediate confirmation that it could be on course for its best season in F1
"This is a really crucial weekend for us," admitted Graeme Lowdon, Marussia's CEO. "We came here last year knowing our car did not have peak performance but we knew it was going to be reliable, and if we had a steady race then we could pick up a good result. And we were on track for that last year, until we had a pit stop problem.
"This year, I think it will be a real challenge to finish these early races because it is a step into the unknown in terms of reliability. But if we see some idea of performance in the sessions at the back end of this week, that will be a massive boost. It is a long season after that!"
Lowdon says that the approach of the team, which raced under the Virgin banner for the past two seasons, is totally different as it heads into 2012.
"We are looking at the longer game now," he said. "There was a lot of complicated surgery taking place at the back end of last year with building up the technical structure, so I think as far as these first flyaways are concerned it is more a case of us understanding the car and seeing where things are at. Without any questions last year, when we knew we were going to be in for a difficult year, it was so important that we tried to pick up any opportunity from the early races we could.
"But there is a different mindset now. We are looking at the bigger picture. We are looking much more at making sure we have the platform to build performance-wise."
Team principal John Booth reckons that the squad should be targeting getting its car in to Q2 later in the campaign, especially when its first ever wind tunnel updates come through for the start of the European season.
"I will still maintain that Q2 has to be goal," he said. "It is tough, and we are not underestimating how tough it is. That is the first step, and the first recognizable step for any of the three [newest] teams."