Renault's Nelson Piquet believes the team will struggle to repeat the turnaround in form it achieved in 2008 in the second half of this year.
The French marque has scored just 11 points – one point less than at the same stage last season – but Piquet reckons it will be difficult to match last year's recovery, when the team won two races and scored 68 points in the rest of the year.
"Last year I think we had a better car than this year," Piquet told AUTOSPORT. "Last year's was progressing better...or maybe it's that everyone else is progressing quicker.
"The development never stops. The key is to develop quicker than the other cars and it's not going to be an easy second half of the year for us.
"Now you can really see where the teams with the big budgets really make a difference, because you can have a lot of people working many hours a day and the small teams can't do this."
However, Piquet is impressed with the progress that the team has made so far, and hopes that top five finishes will be possible during the rest of the year.
He heads to next weekend's German Grand Prix knowing that it was in this race last year that he claimed his career best result – second place behind Lewis Hamilton.
"The middle of the pack is very close," he said. "Hopefully for the next race there will be a few upgrades. The car looks OK and the team is always very optimistic that we can fight for the top five. In the first test in Portugal, it was way off the pace and we recovered. But it's still hard."