Lotus F1 technical director Nick Chester says the new E23 Hybrid will be a 'massive step forward' after the team's recent struggles adapting to the new F1 regulations.

The team switches from Renault to Mercedes power for the 2015 F1 season and Chester is confident the new Power Unit will bring improved performance as well as greater consistency in the races.

"The E23 Hybrid represents a massive step forward for us. It's no secret that we struggled with last year's car so we've targeted every area that caused us an issue," Chester said. "We've made strong progress in the wind tunnel as well as in areas such as packaging and cooling."

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Lotus, which will feature an unchanged driver line-up of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, managed just three points' scoring finishes in 2015 as the team trailed a disappointing eighth in the teams' championship.

Despite this, Chester insists last year's E22 - which featured an unusual dual-pronged nose - performed well in the wind tunnel, but ultimately failed to perform on track as the team struggled to perfect its set-up with the troubled Renault power unit.

However, having joined Williams and Force India in adopting Mercedes' power unit for 2015, he believes Lotus is well placed to return to the front of the grid.

"We expect the E23 to perform far, far better than its predecessor. In terms of what's new, obviously a massive change for us is a new Power Unit supplier," he said. "We made this change as it looked and looks to be the one area of the car which could bring us the greatest performance gain. It's not just performance, but reliability and driveability as well as packaging and cooling too."

"The E22 did deliver good figures in the wind tunnel, even if it was difficult to unlock its potential, so we've paid more attention to making the characteristics of the car more adaptable," he added.

Reflecting on last season's frustrations, Chester has said the team has made remarkable improvements during the winter but won't be able to measure how much it has improved until the first Grand Prix in Australia on 14-15 March.

"We learnt a lot in many areas of the car over the course of 2014 so there are many lessons which have been applied," We know we've made a big step. We won't know how our car will fare in relative terms until we're out in action at a Grand Prix, but we certainly expect to be much more competitive than last year."

In addition to a new engine supplier, the E23 has an all-new suspension system after mid-season regulations last year meant the team had to make drastic changes to their 2014 car.

"In terms of the suspension, we were delivered something of a blow last year when the front-rear interconnected suspension was outlawed mid-season," Chester explained. "The E23's suspension design is specific to the updated regulations so we're not trying to update a system originally intended to work a different way."