Lotus F1 team principal Eric Boullier has declared himself to be 1000 per cent happier with the way things are going for his team this year than they were at the same point in 2011 - and that he's aiming for a finish in the top three in the constructors' battle by the end of the season.

"I am pretty convinced that we will be in the fight for one of the prime places in the constructors' championship," he said. "I think we should be able to defend our current position. I am not sure about third or fourth by the end of the year, as everything is very close," he added.

The team slipped just a solitary point behind McLaren to fourth in the constructors' standings after Hockenheim, thanks to the Woking team's points haul from Jenson Button's second place finish.

"It's obviously disappointing to lose third place, but it's very, very tight and we've built a gap over the fifth-placed team," said Boullier, referring to the 54pt buffer that Lotus now has over Mercedes, which started the season with much buzz about its 2012 car but which has proved no match for the Lotus or its driver line-up of former world champion Kimi Raikkonen and GP2 graduate Romain Grosjean.

"We saw a great recovery from Kimi after a difficult qualifying session - he put in a very strong and experienced drive coupled with a good strategy from the team," said Boullier of his lead driver's weekend in Germany. "It was good to see Kimi score big points again and display strong race pace."

Grosjean had a somewhat more problematic weekend, and Boullion admitted that the Frenchman's weekends tended to be either at one extreme or anther - triumph or disaster, with little in between.

"We have all seen him have very good weekends, but we have also seen weekends where the results have not been as Romain or anyone in the team would have wanted," agreed Boullier. "This means we need to ensure that he has solid weekends even when circumstances are against him, such as starting from the back of the grid.

"He's still learning, it's only his first full year," he pointed out. "But as we all know he can do very well and we are working with him to ensure that he always puts in a solid drive. This includes making it through the first lap which is obviously very important."

But Boullier said he was impressed by what a fast learner Grosjean was proving to be: "He is making mistakes - of course - because he is a youngster. But the good news is that he never repeats a mistake. He is learning, listening and getting stronger with every race."

As for the overall team performance, Boullier admitted that it was no secret what factor was stopping Lotus from achieving their potential of running a Grand Prix in 2012.

"Anyone who watches F1 can tell us this: we need to do better in qualifying. It's clear that if we want to win the races we have to be top four or five on the grid," he said.

Otherwise, it was a case of keeping the car ahead of those of their rivals, and building on the lessons already learned in 2012.

"We are hungry for success and we do want more - if we can keep bringing the developments and updates we have been planning and make them work on track," he said. "I would say with the experience we have learnt from the first ten races, we should be able to score more points in the second half of the year, which will be very good for our championship battle," he added.

Certainly, as F1 heads into its mid-season summer break in August following the Hungarian Grand Prix next weekend, Eric Boullier is giving every impression of being a much happier man than at any time before in his F1 career with Lotus.

Asked to say how much better the team was doing compared with 2011, he replied: "Significantly. If I had to take a number, let's say 1000 per cent!"

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