Renault's Frederic Vasseur says that the team can be encouraged by its run in the Australian Grand Prix, admitting that he was pleasantly surprised by its performance.
Although neither Jolyon Palmer or Kevin Magnussen were able to score points in the 57-lap Melbourne race, the British rookie ran in the top ten for some time, fending off both Toro Rosso drivers in the process, before finishing eleventh, while F1 returnee Magnussen battled back to twelfth after suffering a time-consuming puncture on lap one.
"It was a very positive start to the season," admitted racing director Vasseur, who has led his own ART team to success in F3, GP3 and GP2 over the years, "We aimed to get to the end of the race and we got there with two cars. The end result was not excessively flattering, due to the number of incidents that did not go in our favour, but the pace at the end was good, comparable to Force India and not far from Williams, which is encouraging for the team and a good basis to build on.
"We need to maximise our qualifying form so we can take advantage of this strong race pace, but that will come, I am sure. If it wasn't for the restart, I think we could have scored points as we were in a great position, but that's life. We know where we are and what we need to do to achieve what we want.
"We didn't have any major issues, [and the car] was good to drive. The first target was to finish the race and we achieved it with both cars. You always have to think about what was the objective when you start and, if someone told me in Barcelona that we would fight in the race with a Force India and a Williams, I would have laughed! It's a good surprise."
Despite the lack of points, Vasseur was naturally delighted with the performance of both his drivers and hopes to be able to take something from the forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix.
"I think we can be very pleased with the drivers," he insisted, "Jolyon had a very good debut. It was a shame for Kevin, but he built back up and was strong at the end of the race. It's a bit disappointing we did not score points, but we did not truthfully expect to be in the points in Melbourne given the late start we had to the project.
"We now need to keep the momentum going. We need to work as a team to move forward, but it is very encouraging to start like we did in Australia."