Lotus technical director Nick Chester insists that the E22 has 'tremendous potential' and was encouraged by the team's pace during last weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix.
Lotus has yet to score a point in 2014 but Chester believes that his outfit is rapidly closing the gap to the midfield runners.
"The E22 has tremendous potential even if we are only gradually unlocking it," he said.
"In the Bahrain Grand Prix we were closer to Mercedes, Williams and McLaren than we have been previously. Our race-pace gap to the Williams and McLaren is now half a second and it was over a second in Sepang, so we’ve made a decent incremental improvement.
"Although we were still not quick enough in Bahrain, we actually don’t need to find much more performance before we can be regularly in the points, which when you consider where we started from, is encouraging. We are about level with Toro Rosso for pace at the moment.
"Were it not for the safety car incident in Bahrain, Pastor [Maldonado] would have been fighting for our first point. That’s not where we want to be, but we’re on the edge of the points during what are still very early days for the E22."
Lotus suffered several power unit issues during last week's post-race test in Bahrain and Chester revealed that their lack of track time means the introduction of new components has been delayed.
"We’ve had to adapt our programme for China because of this," he said. "We’re going to attempt to get as much as we can out of FP1 and FP2 in Shanghai to test new parts, but ultimately we’ve delayed the introduction of some key developments until Barcelona now."