Lotus F1 team boss Eric Boullier reckons his team will be a podium threat for the rest of the 2012 season after overcoming early problems.
While he doesn't specify whether the 'glitches' that affected its first three races were to do with personnel or technology, the Frenchman is confident that they have been eradicated, and that Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean will be in a position to challenge for top three points over the remaining 15 rounds.
Both drivers appeared on the podium in Bahrain, where Raikkonen led the pursuit of eventual winner Sebastian Vettel, and the Finn was again a factor in Barcelona at the weekend, where he closed in on local favourite Fernando Alonso before ultimately having to settle for third place.
“[Getting both drivers onto the podium in Bahrain] was a fantastic reward for the team,” Boullier told the official F1 website, “We haven't performed in that mode since 2006.
“The fact is [that] we were expecting to deliver something after the first three races, but we had to come to terms with the little glitches we had. When that was done - voila
- it finally worked.
“Believe me, I would love to have both cars on the podium every weekend and we are on the way there. [But] you have to consider that both our drivers have not been driving in F1 for at least two years, so they also needed to get up to speed and get into handling the format of the weekend. Even if you do a lot of mileage in the car, you still have to get your game together and not miss any opportunities in practice, qualifying or the race.”
While admitting that the recent Mugello test is an experiment that may not need to be repeated in 2013, Boullier was grateful for the chance to get some extra mileage on the E20, while Grosjean's frontrunning pace at the Italian circuit provided another confidence boost for the Enstone equipe
“In our position, this test was perfect,” Boullier admitted, “This year, it was the right thing for us, but next year - with full winter testing - the situation might look different. I would say that we exploited this test to the full, but I would not generally say that we need such a test in the future. [However], we missed one third of testing in February due to some issues, so these three days made up for that.
“[We took] a lot of things [to Barcelona from the test]. You saw it in qualifying and in the race - and my guess is that we will also be able to put on a good show in Monaco.”
While optimistic that Lotus would eventually emerge as a threat for podium positions, however, Boullier stopped short of predicting that it would become the sixth different team to win a race in 2012.
“My gut feeling was that we would maybe see one of our black overalls on the podium [in Spain], and I was right,” he commented, “Two black overalls on the podium was more an aspiration. [But] we also have to stay realistic - this is a highly-competitive environment and there are no podium places going for free!”