The Manor Formula 1 team has earned the respect of its rivals, according to the outfit's racing director Dave Ryan.
Pascal Wehrlein scored a point for Manor in July's Austrian Grand Prix, allowing the team to move into 10th place in the constructors' championship, only to be overhauled by Sauber at the penultimate race in Brazil.
As a result, based on payments for 2015 performance, the team missed out on around $13.5million - around a sixth of its budget - in prize money.
Nonetheless, Manor, which is in talks with a new investor with regards acquiring a majority stake in the team, took a big step forward in pace compared to previous years.
The team's 'supertime' - the average of its fastest lap from any session over each grand prix weekend converted to a percentage with 100% reprinting the outright fastest - was 103.779% this term.
That is only 0.262% adrift of the next slowest outfit - Sauber - and a 2.68% gain compared to last season.
"Let's be frank, we needed to make a big performance improvement but we did," Ryan told Autosport at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
"We still have to make the same sort of step again but the goal was that we wanted to earn the respect of the pitlane and we have done.
"There have been several times this year where we really deserved to be in Q2 on pure performance and we've ticked that box five times - but not enough.
"We belong here, that's for sure, and if we can keep building the team then there's no reason to expect that we won't keep improving."
Ryan believes there is a lot to improve on and lessons to be learned but he feels the team is doing a good job with the budget it has.
"There's been a lot of lessons and it is a massive challenge," he said.
"If you just look down at the pitlane and see the resources that everyone else has got, generally speaking you just think this isn't going to be easy.
"The frustration is that you know what you need to do and where you need to be but you know it's going to take two or three seasons to get to that point.
"So budgets are obviously a big thing but in terms of the value we got back out of the money we put into the team, that's pretty impressive.
"We know there's still a huge amount of work to do."