Eric Boullier admits that it will take time for the Lotus team to achieve its long-term goals in F1, with the season ahead being of 'adjustment' before hopefully fighting for the title in 2013.
The team took fifth in the championship last year while still known as Renault, having failed to build on two podium finishes in the opening two rounds of the season courtesy of Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov.
What had looked set to be a strong season ultimately turned in to one of disappointment as the Enstone-based team fell away from its rivals and Boullier said the aim for the year ahead was to make forward progress and to put 2011 firmly in the past.
“Obviously 2012 is very welcome after a poor 2011 and very hectic year,” he said following the launch of the new E20. “It's clear we've maintained our ambition on track and we want to carry on the full restructuring, progress and change that we started one year ago. We now have a clear target.
“We know that we have a strong commitment from our shareholders, that we want to be a top team and seen as a top team. 2012 will be the year of our final adjustment to be ready and fully operational from 2013 with an ambitious plan. For 2012 we expect to be in a position to fight for fourth place for the championship.”
Boullier added that the team had been able to learn from its struggles last year and reiterated that taking the team back the glory days of championship success as Benetton and Renault was a long-term plan.
“We learnt many things last year because we went very far in term of creativity with our forward exhaust,” he said. “We also went too far maybe by developing some very nice concepts, but being unable to revert back sometimes. I think it's just a question of process and how we handle all the projects and new ideas we have for the future. We definitely learned our lessons and our group is getting much stronger than before. It was a tough year, but a good year to learn from our experience.
“We have conducted a very long and deep process since 2010. You cannot return to being world champion in one day or one month. You need time. We had a complete review of our process and structure. 2012 will be the final step towards building a winning and ambitious team, as I've said before; a clear target for 2012 and also after 2014.”