- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) - Having used up its stores of frustration and despair at Formula One’s season-opening race, the Lotus team is drawing on long-term hope at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

Lotus’ preseason testing woes continued at the Australian Grand Prix, where they were beset by an array of technical problems, did precious few laps in practice and predictably neither car finished the race.

It was a far cry from the form of 2013 which saw the team regularly fighting at the front. Despite the sharp fall, Lotus is a much more upbeat outfit at Sepang, with bold predictions of points finishes and even podium places in a few races’ time.

“If we put two and two together we are not that far off the Red Bull,” Lotus driver Romain Grosjean said Thursday. “We need to take it step by step and be patient when things don’t go right.

“Everyone wants to believe we can come back and can fight for points …. and get on the podium.”

While podium places are a long way off yet, Grosjean’s teammate Pastor Maldonado believed points were within the team’s grasp in Malaysia.

“When you get on top of the problems you see they are not huge problems, are easy to fix,” Maldonado said.

“If we finish the race, we have a chance to fight for good places.”

Grosjean admitted to some abrupt radio communications with his engineers in Melbourne - joking that he needed pills to calm down after a series of glitches - but said the frustrating start to the season was not fraying team morale.

“Our team spirit is stronger than ever,” Grosjean said. “We are all working together, we are all in the same boat.”

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