Nick Heidfeld says he hopes Renault can be in contention for top-three finishes from the start of the season.
He said: “We have an idea where we stand, but nobody knows exactly.
“I think we have good performance in the car, and if everything is working well, I hope we can fight for podiums from the start of the season.”
Team principal Eric Boullier added: “Last year we finished second with the help of the weather. I would love to do the same this year without any help.”
Boullier said Heidfeld had settled in well after taking over from the injured Robert Kubica at the team:
“I think he has settled in as well as we could have expected. The more he works with the team, the easier things become and he has already built a good relationship with everybody.”
Heidfeld expects to do at least four stints during the race: “I believe the tyres will have the biggest impact and will make the strategy quite exciting.
“I expect to see a lot more pit stops than in the past – at least three per race – and I believe the pit stop windows will be narrower. That’s because when the tyres degrade and lose performance, you have no choice but to pit, otherwise you lose too much time.”
2011 Australian Grand Prix
Browse all 2011 Australian Grand Prix articles