is not expecting a return to the top step of the podium in 2015. In 2012 and 2013, when the returning Kimi Raikkonen
was at the wheel of the black and gold car, the Finn managed to win races as the Enstone team soared to fourth in the constructors' standings.
But last year, Lotus slumped with its innovative and asymmetrical, twin-nosed E22, as team owner Gerard Lopez now admits departed engine supplier "Renault
was not solely to blame for the disastrous 2014 season".
With an industry-leading Mercedes
now under the engine cover, however, Lotus has presented the tidy E23 for 2015 and is predicting a return to form. "I hope to get back to a good period," lead driver Romain Grosjean
told France's Auto Hebdo, "showing what I am capable of in 2015 and having a winning car in 2016."
Owner Lopez agrees that Lotus' return to winning ways might indeed take some time. "Two years ago," said the Luxembourger, "we claimed a win and 13 podiums. We were right up there with Red Bull and challenging Mercedes and Ferrari
for a top-three finish in the constructors' championship, while beating McLaren
, Force India
Then came 2014, but Lotus appears to now be back on track with the E23, as Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado
enthuse that they should be much more competitive this year. But Lopez warned: "After such a tough season, I think it's wiser not to swagger about."
"Let's keep a low profile, stay humble in the face of the hardships we experienced, and remain careful not to hit the repeat button. First, let's work very hard to recover and return to our 2013 form. Only then can we talk about aiming higher. Let's reclaim our rightful place first and revise our targets next," he added. (GMM)