Pastor Maldonado believes his Lotus team is not far away behind the pack chasing the dominant Mercedes team ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Lotus had a frustrating Australian Grand Prix, as Maldonado crashed out at the start and teammate Romain Grosjean retired on the opening lap.
But both had shown promising pace on Saturday, putting their cars in the top ten.
Maldonado believes Ferrari and Williams are just a few tenths ahead of Lotus.
"We will need three or four races to see the real potential of each car, except for Mercedes," said Maldonado.
"The rest of the teams... Ferrari made a huge step forward, Williams is still there, and I hope to be right behind them at the moment and in the near future try to close the gap.
"They are not far away. I think we need a few tenths, three or four tenths, just to be there. We have a solid car. We'll see.
"We are working quite hard. We are competing against bigger teams than us but on the other hand we can see a very compact group right behind Mercedes. It's good competition."
The Venezuelan said Lotus has a significant upgrade package that could make its debut in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
"We are expecting some bits. They will arrive as soon as they are ready. We have a new package which maybe will be very important for us. On paper is never as clear as on track, but we are expecting something good.
"Maybe before Barcelona. We'll see.
"If we are a bit late we will get it for Barcelona for sure. Let's say Bahrain, but as soon as we can get some new bits in the car that will be very positive."