Caterham has been backed to join the midfield battle during the 2012 F1 season by rival team boss Franz Tost in what will be the third season for the team in the sport.

For two years under the Lotus name - firstly as Lotus Racing and then Team Lotus - the team was easily the best of the three newcomers and managed to bring itself closer to the rest of the field.

Although the team has yet to consistently challenge the established outfits on the grid, Toro Rosso chief Tost said he expected that to change during the year ahead and for Caterham to become serious challengers in the middle of the pack.

"The main competitors for us are Sauber, Force India and Caterham," he told a media briefing at Jerez. "These are the main competitors. "Caterham have now built up a good infrastructure. They have the Renault engine and, as far as I know, the KERS from Red Bull. That means their package from the technical side is quite strong. They have two experienced drivers and I expect them to become a competitor this year."

Toro Rosso ended the 2011 campaign eighth in the championship - just three points behind Sauber - and Tost added that the target for 2012 was to finish at least one spot higher.

"Our target is seventh place," he said. "We must do better than last year when we were eighth, and although sixth would be nice, seventh is the target."