The Lotus E23 Hybrid will benefit from a raft of aerodynamic upgrades as the European leg of the F1 world championships kicks off in Spain next weekend.

The Circuit de Catalunya is a traditional venue for the appearance of teams' first major update to cars that may have been mildly tinkered with during the season-opening 'flyaways', and Lotus technical director Nick Chester confirmed that the Enstone team - which is already showing signs of being able to challenge for solid points - will be no different to its rivals.

"It will be an interesting weekend as many teams will bring decent upgrades to the first European race of the season and we are working on bringing a reasonably significant package in terms of bodywork upgrades ourselves," he noted, "There's a certain amount of anticipation to see what everyone turns up with. In terms of our expectations, there's nothing to say that we shouldn't have another strong race in Barcelona, just as we did in China and Bahrain.

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"It's pretty competitive in the midfield and fighting to be at the head of the chasing pack. Mercedes are still the team to beat this season, although Ferrari is giving them a chase at the moment. There is a fairly big gap to Williams, who are followed by Red Bull and us. There is a smaller gap there and we can race them...."

A tough 2014 campaign, where two early European scores for Romain Grosjean were not added to until Pastor Maldonado took ninth in the USA, was highlighted by a rare weekend of promise in Spain, and Chester admits that the Circuit of Catalunya seemed to suit Lotus.

"Indeed, we did have a good weekend last year in Barcelona - the E22 was good in high speed corners, but not so good in low speed corners," he acknowledged, "It's a circuit that needs really strong downforce - it really is key in Barcelona with so many high speed corners. The third sector is slightly different in that the car needs to be able to ride the kerbs well through the chicanes but, that said, you can't get away from the fact that the main element is the amount of downforce you have on the car.

"This year's car is much more consistent in all corners. The drivers are complimentary about the handling of the car finding it much easier to drive on the limit and we seem to be in a similar position at each track we have visited so far this year. It's far more what we all want from a car."

So far, 2015 has shadows of last season, with Grosjean already notching up a brace of seventh-place finishes while Maldonado has yet to score after four rounds. Chester, however, believes that the Venezuelan just needs a little more luck to make the most of the improved car at his disposal - and help

"It's been good for Romain to have had these two strong finishes," he noted, "He has a car that he's happy with and a good solid baseline in terms of set-up and performance. Pastor will benefit from a clean race to collect points. Both cars are capable of strong results but, for stronger finishes than P7, we need to continue to develop the car to make it more competitive, put more downforce on the car and continue with our upgrade programme."