Of all the Renault runners, only Red Bull are faster than Lotus, according to Romain Grosjean.
Grosjean was on target to score Lotus' first points of the season at the Chinese Grand Prix last week, before a gearbox problem forced the Frenchman to retire.
After running in the top 10 in Shanghai, though, Grosjean believes Lotus have finally caught up with the rest of the pack despite having been written off by F1 bookmakers.
"I think we were going to get a point in the end before the gearbox problem, but if you take the picture from the whole weekend it's 90 per cent positive," Grosjean told Autosport.
"Renault did a good job, Lotus did a good job and in the end there has been no revolution, just a small step in the right direction.
"We were the second Renault team [in China], in front of McLaren and Toro Rosso, and fighting with Force India, so that was positive."
However, Lotus owner Gerard Lopez believes points should have been on the cards despite Paddy Power dropping them outside their top-ten favourites.
Lopez reckons Grosjean would have been even quicker in Shanghai had it not been for a problem with the E22's diffuser.
"Romain had an issue with rear downforce stalling when we were aiming for P6 in qualifying, which is a bit more like it," Lopez revealed to Autosport after the Chinese Grand Prix.
"Before the gearbox issue he had the same stalling issues again in the race, so the car was difficult to drive, but I still think we could have done P9 or P10 even with that.
"When fourth gear failed there was no point taking any risk with the engine - we're already on a third engine with [team-mate] Pastor [Maldonado] - so it made sense to retire Romain.
"It's been a differently frustrating weekend in the sense that we've clearly seen for ourselves the pace is starting to be there, so not to score any points is frustrating."