Lotus F1 technical director Nick Chester reckons the Enstone-based outfit could be the top Renault-powered team in F1 2014.

Lotus skipped the opening test in Jerez last month, but Chester was pleased with how the final day went in Bahrain last week with Pastor Maldonado managing a relatively encouraging 59 laps in the new E22 - his best effort: a 1min 38.707secs, which put him 13th on the combined times.

Red Bull Racing in contrast continued to struggle with Daniel Ricciardo restricted to just 15 tours, although the reigning champions did do fractionally more laps over the second pre-season test as a whole - 116 versus 111.

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"I think we could be the lead Renault team," Chester told reporters including Crash.net, when quizzed on where he thinks Lotus are in the pecking order. "We certainly haven't gone badly this week in comparison to the other Renault powered-teams and I know the guys at Red Bull Racing are having a few problems."

"All we can do really at the moment though is just focus on ourselves," Chester added.

"We have to do the best job we can because even if we are the best Renault team, we have still got to push on and catch the other guys.

"We have got to think about ourselves and move forward," he summed-up.