Jarno Trulli admits his Lotus team's target for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix is to make it to the finish of the race.
Lotus has been around five seconds off the pace of the leading teams during winter testing, having built and tested its F1 car in record time after gaining an entry in the second half of last year. With that in mind, Trulli reckons the sole goal for the team has to be reaching the end of the race to gain experience.
"We will be four seconds off the top, and we will be three seconds off the last car from the top group which is too much. The aim is to finish the race with both cars and to get experience," Trulli said in Bahrain. The Italian said he felt the responsibility of carrying the Lotus name, which had been absent from Formula 1 for 16 years.
"It is special given the heritage of the brand," he said. "It also gives me a responsibility because we are all responsible for this brand, we all know where it was and we all know what the target is.
"We cannot imagine keeping this brand where we will be this week, and we will need to push it to the top. I know it's not going to be easy, especially for the first five or six races as we will be four seconds off. Given the limited time that they had to design the car and to get it on the track, the guys back at the factory have done a great job.
"Obviously, they had to make some compromises on the weight, on the general car performance and technically but at least we got it running pretty reliably and put a lot of mileage on it in testing. So far, we have achieved great things."
Trulli, who started the Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position last year with Toyota, admitted the stark contrast to this year's prospects has not been easy to accept.
"I thought about it while I was driving here this morning. I was driving in and I said to myself, 'Last year I was on pole and this year I will be at the back.' What can you say? Things change and, unfortunately, it has happened to me again that while I was taking the team to the top, it suddenly decided to pull off and you have to start from scratch and do it again.
"It will be sad to see myself at the back of the grid when last year I was on pole, but that's life and you can't change it. It can happen to everyone else. If Ferrari decided to pull the plug you would have Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa looking for a drive and searching for a team to give them another chance."