Feb.19 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Lotus is hitting back in the wake of reports it might be counted among F1’s most struggling teams.

Owner Gerard Lopez led the charge vocally late last year when fellow midfielders Force India and Sauber were railing against the unfairness of the sport’s income distribution model.

At the time, Lotus was also in a competitive crisis, having slumped from fourth overall in 2012 and 2013 to a woeful eighth in 2014.

Lead driver Romain Grosjean likened driving last year’s car to trying to shoot baskets with a rugby ball, but Lotus has now switched to industry-leading Mercedes power and the first signs from the new E23 car were positive.

“It reminded me of driving the 2013 car,” Frenchman Grosjean is quoted by Brazil’s Globo, “when it was common for us to be among the best ones.

“There is now a process for us to get back to that stage, but I do not think it will take long,” he added.

Not just that, Lotus is also painting a picture of more robust financial health, within memory of reports that staff, suppliers and even drivers went through periods of not being paid.

Team owner Lopez told the French magazine Auto Hebdo this week that the Enstone team’s deficit last year was “only $1 million”, after key sponsors upped their deals.

“We had an exceptional balance statement at the end of 2014 with a deficit of only $1 million,” he announced. “These most probably are the strongest financial results of any privateers on the grid.”

It means Lotus’ technical boss Nick Chester has been given the green light to put the throttle down on turning the 2015-spec E23 into a frontrunner.

“Our technical director has been given carte blanche to plan an aggressive development programme,” Lopez confirmed to Globo.