Lotus Operations Director Alan Permane insists that the Enstone team has the potential to rival top 10 regulars like McLaren and score points consistently.
Lotus have struggled throughout the initial parts of the season, but were given a bit of a boost when Romain Grosjean ended in 11th place in Malaysia, their first finish of the season.
"Racing for tenth is not what we want to do, but when you look at where teams like McLaren are, they certainly look very catchable," Permane told Autosport.
"We don't need to stick a great deal [of performance] in to do that.
"We know we have an awful lot coming power unit wise, so we know we can certainly react to them and although we are far back, it won't take a lot.
"To catch Mercedes or Red Bull is very difficult, but I'm pretty sure that we can be regularly going into Q3 and scoring good points."
Because of the problems Lotus have had throughout preseason and the Australian Grand Prix, there is a lot of room for their E22 to be improved upon: set-up work over the next three races can deliver big returns while the problems with the Renault power unit seem to be less debilitating after each race.
"We know what we can do to improve things with the power unit and we are working hard with Renault to do that," Permane added in his interview with Autosport.
"We will make a step next race, we will make another step in China and we will make another step in Barcelona, so things are happening.
"And it's not just the power unit, as we have got problems with our braking [by wire] system because we haven't used it much and are now discovering it.
"We have got some tests going on back at Enstone and we hope to learn a lot more about that.
"All the engineers and the mechanics here are doing incredibly long hours and for everybody back at Enstone it's soul-destroying not to see the car on track after all the work that's gone in.
"The work only gets harder when it's bad, but that's why we have a good bunch of people who keep their heads down and get on with it.
"There's no magic button. There is only one way out when you are in trouble and that's to put your head down and work."