While he recognises the current limitations of Renault's new RS16, Kevin Magnussen acknowledges that there is undoubtedly more to come from the team as the 2016 F1 season progresses.
Speaking ahead of next weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, the Dane admitted that it was nice to be back in the saddle after a year out of the sport following his unceremonious exit from McLaren, but reflected on an opening round that was stymied by a lap one puncture in Melbourne.
"It was a tough race, but I was really happy as the pace was very good," Magnussen noted, "It was annoying to get that puncture at the start, which compromised our race. I didn't have any contact as far as I could tell, but I saw the pressures coming down and knew that something was wrong. In some respects, we were lucky to get the red flag … and then I had the race from there. We had a good pace, on par with Williams and maybe even faster, so I'm gutted as we could possibly have been in the points if I had not had that puncture. But that's life..."
Given Renault's late decision to take up the reins of the faltering Lotus team, to be running in the midfield - and, in team-mate Jolyon Palmer's case, fending off the two Toro Rossos for long periods - was a good return for the regie
. Magnussen recognises that there is still some way to go before the RS16 is running at its full potential, particularly with its under-powered French V6 still trailing Mercedes and Ferrari, but believes there is a solid enough platform to build on over the coming months.
"We didn't think we would have the pace of the top ten but, in the end, we did - for a first race, it looks very encouraging for the rest of the season," he confirmed, "The feeling in the car was good and I was able to fight and overtake and put the car where I wanted to, so it's clearly very driveable. It is not fast enough to be on the podium, or even in Q3, but it's a good car that handles well and it's something we will continue to work on. We don't need to change the philosophy in any way, just keep developing and it will come to us.
"It is very clear that this team is a top team in F1. Maybe not in terms of pace - we know where we are and we are not happy with this - but, when we get the car faster, we will be there. We have a good baseline and something we can really work on. I didn't have a good race but I am very happy as it looks good for the rest of the season."