Sauber's new technical director James Key has said he is confident the outfit can recover from its disastrous start to the F1 2010 season.

Thus far this year the former BMW-backed outfit has had a tough time and Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi have both been severely hampered by reliability problems. Indeed to date the Ferrari-powered C29 has only completed one grand prix distance, when de la Rosa brought the car home in twelfth in Australia at the end of March.

Key, who has been brought in to replace the retiring Willy Rampf, isn't too alarmed though, and he believes there is a lot of potential.

"My first impressions [of the team] are very good. We have an excellent group of people here, and the expertise and the knowledge are at a very high level. And, of course, the facilities are state-of the-art. There is enormous potential," he confirmed.

"Everything is here that needs to be here to ensure the team can move forward, although there is also much work to be done. The team is still recovering from its uncertain situation in the second half of 2009 [when BMW pulled out]. It requires a slightly new approach to the way certain areas work to make better use of the size the team is now."

Pressed of if it is 'realistic' to believe Sauber can move up the grid this year, he added it is definitely possible: "I believe it is, because we now know what we need to do with the current car," he explained. "However, for some issues there are no quick fixes. Some current characteristics of the car need to be developed to produce new characteristics, which takes time. So we will work as quickly as possible to turn that around.

"Targets have been set and they are very ambitious. It's certainly possible to move up the grid, but the competition is fierce so we have to do everything we can to develop quicker than they do."

As for this weekend's event at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, Key is hopeful they can begin the process of moving forward straight away.

"We have some updates for Barcelona, as most of the teams will have. We are trying to push our F-Duct design a step further. This is obviously a technology that will eventually appear all the way down the grid during the year, but our team has some experience of it from the first events," he continued.

"Additionally we have a package of updates on the car, which are particularly on the front end and the diffuser. It's a decent package, which will hopefully allow us to find some more performance. Obviously a lot depends on how tough the competition is.

"Some of the steps address the issues the team has identified in terms of the aero characteristics, so it should make the car a little bit better purely through changing the way it behaves.

"With regard to the circuit itself, it's obviously a place everybody knows extremely well. It's an excellent reference circuit with a real mix of low and high speed corners, which require downforce as well as a good mechanical grip. It's a very technical circuit where it's never been easy to get the best out of the car. It will be interesting going back there after the cars have developed since winter testing, and to see how much they have changed.

"An important question will be how well we can get the tyres to last because it is a very hard circuit on tyres; and, of course, the difference in temperature between winter and now is also an interesting aspect.

"I'm looking forward to the event. It's obviously Pedro's home race, which is great for him and, as a team, we will try to have a good weekend and put the difficult start to the season behind us," Key concluded.