Mike Gascoyne has admitted that no-one is expecting an immediate turnaround in fortunes for Lotus Racing following deals to run Renault engines and Red Bull rear ends in 2011, and points to the latter's climb up the F1 ladder as reason to be patient.
Even though it 'only' took RBR seven years to transform the nightmare that was Jaguar into success in its own right, Gascoyne points out that Christian Horner's team at least had the advantage of starting out with a lot of the infrastructure needed already in place. Lotus, on the other hand, had to start from scratch and, although that gave it certain freedoms, that means it has further to travel than its recently-crowned rival.
"If you look at the example of Red Bull, it took them seven years and they bought an existing team, which was a Jaguar team, which was a Stewart team," he told paultan.org
, "When I went to Benetton, to bring Renault back into F1, again that was an existing team. We started in 2001 at the back of the grid, got podiums the next year, won our first race in 2003 - with Fernando [Alonso] in Hungary - and they won the world championship in 2005.
"So, even with an established team that won the world championship, it took five years to turn it around into a winning team. You have to take that sort of length of view, so 18 months to two years to bring the [new Lotus] wind tunnel on site [is nothing]. We're in the planning stages - planners are very keen for us to develop the site and are working with us and that's fantastic - but, realistically, it's 18 months to two years away."
However, even though the wind tunnel may be a little way from being operational, Gascoyne is keen to point out the strides the team is taking in other areas.
"We're developing everywhere," he noted, "We'll be getting stronger and stronger as an organisation and don't forget that, with the resource restriction agreed within F1, the teams with 600 people are going to have to come down to 300 people. So they'll be coming down to our size rather than us having to grow up to them. But you've got to have a five-year plan, and the shareholders are very realistic about that. We've made a good start, but it's very much the first step along the road."
Having dispensed with the likes of HRT and Virgin in its maiden season, Lotus has made no bones about the fact that its 2011 targets lie a little further up the road, and Gascoyne, for one, is happy to have tough targets to work towards.
"I think our aims are very very clear," he continued, "Tony is very good at setting ambitious aims, which is good, but we target teams that finished sixth to ninth - Williams, Force India, Toro Rosso, Sauber - [and] that is clearly where we want to be. F1 is very close at the moment. We were probably, at best, a second off that group, but we're very confident of closing that gap and we want to be racing in that group. We've targeted seventh or eight in the championship, and I think that would be a fantastic step.
"However, from race one, we want to be getting into Q2 and racing in that second half, if you like, [but] you've got to be realistic. I8 months, you're not going to build up a team that is going to race Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren or Mercedes for race wins. That's three or four years down the road but, we clearly next year want to be a regular point-scoring team, so we have very very clear aims."