Federico Gastaldi has warned Lotus' doubters that once they have ironed out their issues, the E22 and its Renault engine will be a front-running package.
Lotus' 2014 Championship got off to a dismal start in Australia where the team, which skipped the first of three pre-season tests, was consistently on the back foot.
While Romain Grosjean was slowest in qualifying, Pastor Maldonado didn't even complete a lap but the stewards allowed him to race.
The Venezuelen driver's Sunday afternoon came to an end on lap 29 while Grosjean reached lap 44 before his E22 gave up.
And although new deputy team principal Gastaldi admits it was a tough weekend, he is anything but dejected.
"I think it would be right to say that the start of the season has been a tough wake up call for everyone," he told the official F1 website. "I knew that it was not going to be easy to start with, and I've been in Formula 1 long enough to understand what was coming.
"It was frustrating more than anything to see the team working so hard; everyone pulling all-nighters but without great results to show for it on track. Following the race on Sunday it felt like we'd completed our first real test as the two weeks in Bahrain were a very frustrating experience for everyone.
"The Melbourne race was the first time we managed to run some consistent laps with both cars, because the free practice sessions were so difficult. So, on that side it was very tough considering the amount of hard work that everyone put in to make things happen."
The team now heads to Malaysia for round two, however, the Italian concedes it could still take weeks before Lotus are up to speed.
Asked what his 'realistic aim' is for Malaysia, he responded: "To keep learning. I would be dancing faster than the music if I said something different!
"We need to keep learning and if everything goes as we anticipate, in collaboration with Renault Sport F1, then we will be in a position to continue progressing for Bahrain and when the Championship comes back to Europe in May."
However, once Lotus and engine supplier Renault have resolved their issues, Gastaldi believes the team will have a front-running package.
As for what he would say to the team's doubters, "I'd say wait and see what we can really achieve with the E22.
"If you look at it logically, Renault Sport F1 are the reigning World Championship winning engine partner, so how is it possible to go from there to nothing? They will deliver the right package to all of us which will enable Lotus F1 Team to be at the front once again.
"We're a smaller team - we're not Mercedes or Ferrari or McLaren, but we have enormous pure racing spirit. This team has been around a long time and we have people here from the glory days, who have passed on the philosophy and ethos of the team's renowned spirit and passion. We are ready to fight!"