Pedro de la Rosa thinks HRT can get itself in good shape for the start of the season, on the back of his first track experience with the team at Jerez in Spain this week.
Although the outfit is still awaiting the green light to run its new car, which depends on it passing crash tests later today, de la Rosa believes the right infrastructure is being put in place for the restructured team to be where it needs to be for the early part of the campaign.
"We are a brand new team and there are a lot of new members, so we have taken our time to work as a team, and it has been interesting," de la Rosa told AUTOSPORT, referring to the transformation HRT is undergoing with its move to a new base in Spain and the arrival of Luis Perez Sala as team boss.
"There is an interesting mix of experience, and people with little experience, so it has been very important to be here. Although we have been testing with the old car, which is in a way not relevant, it was good to go through the tyre compounds from Pirelli. There is something that you always learn; now we are looking forward to the new car.
"I don't think we will need much time to get up to speed. I am comfortable that we can look to Barcelona quite optimistic."
De la Rosa concedes that the 2011 car he was trying in Spain did not deliver the kind of performance he got used to during his years at McLaren, but he is still confident the team could make good progress over the course of the campaign.
"Let's say that there is a lot less grip than what I am used to," he said. "When you look at the lap times, they show everything. It is general lack of grip compared to a competitive car, and we just have to work very hard on every aspect. It is not only aero.
"There are very little small details that make a difference in this sport, so we just need more time and we need to start from zero again.
"With the new car, we know it is a step forward. We just need to quantify how much and prove the correlation with the windtunnel results is correct. There is a lot to come.
"We need time, and we are not looking for performance straight away. Right now, we are just trying to operate as a team and have a car that is reliable and workable. It is not that we are looking for the last tenth at the moment. We just need to create the base level."
De la Rosa is keeping his fingers crossed that HRT gets the green light to get its new car out for the next test at Barcelona, with the outfit hoping to finish off its crash test programme later on today.
"It all depends on how the crash tests go," he said. "Then we will know if we are in a position to test at the first Barcelona test. That would be a really big help for us.
"It is a new car and we need to not only look for performance, but also reliability. It is a new car, so let's cross our fingers. All crash tests have a big risk, and even big teams are nervous when they go to a crash test. And when you do it so late, it increases the risk of having a small issue and everything being delayed."