The new-look Manor F1 team will not be content running around at the back of the field this season, according to sporting director Dave Ryan.
While the John Booth/Graeme Lowdon Manor teams would not exactly have been happy in that position, the injection of new personnel, Mercedes power and a new car have naturally created fresh ambitions for the small British outfit, and Ryan confirms that they are looking upward ahead of the 2016 campaign, which begins in Melbourne this weekend.
With Booth and Lowdon out of the picture, and now focusing their sights on the unrelated Manor WEC project, Ryan is overseeing an F1 programme that brings in DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein and GP2 racewinner Rio Haryanto as well as swapping Ferrari power for the all-conquering Mercedes V6. While not expecting to set the grid alight and move from back to front overnight, the former McLaren man is clearly hoping to be more than also-rans.
"We just want to compete," Ryan stated, "Obviously, we'd like to score points, but we want to do the very best we can with what we have. We've had a few years where we've just turned up and made up the numbers, but we're not interested in doing that any more, so it'll be nice to be in a position where we're not making up numbers and are genuinely part of the circus of F1."
A solid pre-season testing programme, while yielding fewer laps than maybe they wanted, gives Manor cause for optimism, but Ryan admits that there is still work to be done, on and off track, before the team is operating at an ideal level, especially ahead of the longest F1 campaign in history.
"Everyone is pretty knackered, to be honest!" the Kiwi admitted, "We're starting to work as a team now - we still have a lot of work to do, but we had a lot of changes, different people in different roles that they've not been used to before. It's not really where it needs to be, but we're a long way towards that, so it's looking pretty good and we're all looking forward to Melbourne."
Despite concerns from bigger teams about the number of races, especially in far-flung places, Ryan is confident that Manor will be able to cope with a workforce he describes as 'enough'.
"It's going to be a tough season as there are a lot of races, but the way it is, with the cars being away, there's not much to do between races so, while there's a lot of travelling and you're in a far part of the world, the time in between is 'off' so, in a funny way, people get more down time," he explained, "If the cars aren't available to be worked on, there's not much you can do, so we will make sure the guys have time off in a sensible way. It might not be in the right part of the world for them, but they will get time off. I think we'll cope - it's going to be tough, there's no question about it, but that's how it goes."
However, while the ambition is not to be making up the numbers, with the likes of Haas coming in with the latest Ferrari V6 behind them and both McLaren and Renault looking to bounce back from disappointing seasons, Ryan is not about to be drawn into predictions for the Australian Grand Prix.
"It would be a foolish person who starts making predictions," he concluded, "I'm pretty happy with the progress we've made and we're a much stronger team than we were last year from a performance point of view. I think we're way ahead of where we were, which you'd expect with the partners we've got now and the fact that we've built a new car, but where we actually are on the grid, I really don't know..."