Jarno Trulli says that his and Team Lotus' motivation for 2011 are higher than they have ever been before, as he claims the naming battle surrounding the squad has actually helped spur it on this winter.
With less than two weeks to go before the new Team Lotus car hits the track for the first time at Valencia, Trulli says there is genuine excitement within the team about what is achievable this year. He believes his team's deal for Renault engines and Red Bull Racing transmission will be critical in helping the team deliver a good car.
"We know we have the package to compete for at least the midfield and our aim is to race for points at every race," Trulli told AUTOSPORT. "I know it will be hard, but we know the package has the potential.
"We have a brand-new Renault engine, we have a Red Bull gearbox, so we are thinking we can do well. Mike [Gascoyne, technical chief] has worked hard to set up a great team and get ready for this year.
"But while no one exactly knows where they are going to be, I always dream and hope that we can do better than we expect. It has happened many times in the past, so maybe we can exceed our expectations for this year. I feel very confident."
Much of the talk surrounding Team Lotus over the winter has focused on the naming dispute between it and rival Renault, which has signed a sponsorship deal with Lotus. Although that spat became quite heated in public, Trulli claims the situation has been a blessing, acting as a rallying call for all the staff at Team Lotus.
"I think it has motivated a lot of people here," he said. "That stretches from the management like Tony Fernandes through to the shareholders, who have been through a lot of difficulties, and down to the last members of the team.
"What Tony did was unique. He has worked hard to bring the Lotus name back on track, which no one had done for many years. He also just didn't go out there and buy a team. He and Mike [Gascoyne] made up the team from scratch – which comes from the Lotus mentality. It would have been easier to buy a team, but that is not what Colin Chapman did. He drew his own and manufactured his own F1 cars.
"That is why this is the real Team Lotus – and that is what makes it unique and different from the other Lotus team on track. We know that Group Lotus is going to sponsor the Renault team, and that is a very different thing – we have to make that very clear.
"They can argue and they can go to court, but at the end of the day the people understand what Team Lotus is and why it is doing what it is doing. It belongs to the heritage and the story of Colin Chapman. I am sure that Colin Chapman would have been proud of what we are doing. And to do that we need to deliver. That is not going to happen from just one day to another – it will take a bit of time, but there will be more satisfaction when we do that.
"In my opinion, Tony is doing the right thing, even though we feel a bit sad [about the dispute]."
Trulli also says the progress Lotus has made over the winter has left him eager to get back to his best on track.
"Last year was the beginning of a new era for Team Lotus and we knew that with even limited time we could compete," he said. "So we put all our efforts onto this season, so we are very confident.
"I am very fired up, to be honest. It is like my first day of racing again. I admit that 2010 was difficult, but my confident feeling is back now."