Lotus F1 Racing technical director Mike Gascoyne is confident that his team will not fall off the pace of the established teams when it makes its debut next season.
There are fears that the four brand new teams - Lotus, Team US F1, Campos Meta and Manor Grand Prix - will struggle to be near the pace of the nine existing outfits next season, but Gascoyne believes that although there is a danger of a "two-tier F1", his team will not be too far off the pace.
"There is a risk that there will be a pack at the back, but we don't intend to be in it," Gascoyne told AUTOSPORT.
"Our aim is to be pretty close. F1 has been incredibly competitive this year with all of the teams within 1.5 seconds and I hope that we are not going to be far off that group.
"Where the other new teams are, we will have to wait and see."
Gascoyne believes that beating the other new teams is the main target for Lotus in its debut season, and is confident of doing so because the team is well advanced with its aerodynamic development programme.
The team is running extensive aerodynamic tests in both the Fondtech and Aerolab wind tunnels and has already passed an internal crash test for the nose box of the car.
The car is currently scheduled for a rollout in the second week of February next year.
"Obviously, they are the first ones we have got to beat even though we started three months later than them," said Gascoyne. "They are the ones we will be compared with because we have the same engine and gearbox.
"But still, aerodynamics drives performance in F1 and I think that our programme is better than the other teams even though we have still got a lot to do."
All four new teams are running Cosworth V8 engines, and Gascoyne is confident that in terms of performance the unit will be competitive even though there is still work to be done on reliability.
"I think performance-wise it looks pretty good," he said. "The big unknown is Cosworth must go from one-race reliability to four-race reliability in one step. That's a big challenge.
"Reliability and fuel efficiency are the challenges. We'll find out by the fourth races whether the engines will last!"