Renault reckons Robert Kubica would have been on course for a podium finish in the Japanese Grand Prix had he not been forced out with a wheel issue early in the race.
The Polish driver had made a good start from third on the grid to get past Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber for second, but was forced out almost immediately when his right rear wheel fell off.
Team principal Eric Boullier doubted that Kubica's speed was enough to be a match for the eventual winners Red Bull Racing, but he thought a top three finish was on the cards.
"I think we have to be realistic," Boullier told AUTOSPORT. "I think a podium was possible and this is clearly disappointing, but let's try to move forward.
"Our pace is not so bad on this kind of layout, but we still need to work a lot to make the car much easier to drive for our drivers. I think we can expect a couple of results before the end of the season."
Although Kubica's retirement and Vitaly Petrov's first-lap accident meant Renault lost further ground to Mercedes GP in the fight for fourth place in the constructors' championship, Boullier said his outfit would not give up the battle just yet.
"We have a lot of respect for them as they are a serious competitor, and obviously we came from very far back to fight with them," he said.
"It is good to be able to fight with them, but it is not enough, and we are not happy with the situation. But it is one step, we need to be realistic, keep both feet on the ground and keep pushing to be in the big club."