Lotus team principal Gerard Lopez has emphasised that they must be in a competitive position by the time Formula 1 returns to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
Lopez admits that Lotus got caught on the back foot but remains confident with regards to the potential of the E22.
"We got caught on the back-foot," he told The National. "The first race was like a half-length testing session for us. The car is nowhere near where it should be and yet, even then, had we finished the race with an adequate performance level, we could have been top 10. That is not catastrophic, but it is also not where we want to be."
Lopez added that the E22 will feature significant updates for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix and is adamant that the team, which finished fourth in last year's constructors' championship, must be back fighting at the front within the next couple of months.
"The big one for everybody is Barcelona. We already have a new rear wing, new front wing and new floor for this weekend’s race in Malaysia, so we are pushing, but we must be cautious too," he said.
"We don’t want to be left behind. By Barcelona, we must be absolutely performing. At the next two races, we will do everything we can to do a good performance, but we are also very cautious about what to expect.
"We have yet to do a full race distance. We will first try to finish, then score points, then score podiums. We know the car is competitive, so as soon as the engine is ready we should be back to where we believe we should be. We are definitely still looking to take podiums eventually, but we appreciate it could take some time."