Tech director Nick Chester fears Lotus will "need a bit of luck" to even reach the chequered flag in Melbourne.
Debuting their 2014 challenger, the E22, after the opening test in Jerez Lotus were always going to be playing catch up.
However, the Enstone team's chances of doing just that have not been helped by issues with the Renault engine powering the E22.
Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado managed just 238 laps at the second outing in Bahrain to go with the 111 they covered in the first.
As such Chester fears they may not reach the chequered flag at the season-opening Australian GP.
"I think we've got to have a few things align," he told Autosport.
"We've had days when the power unit has been fine and something else has let us down.
"I think we're going to need a bit of luck and all the bits to line up right for us.
"I know Renault Sport are working very hard on fixes and I'm sure they'll be bringing fixes and new specs to Melbourne that hopefully will give us a much better chance."
However, Lotus' issues have not been solely down to their Renault engine.
Chester added: "Most of the issues that have stopped us this week have been on the power unit side but we have had a couple of issues on our side.
"We had some exhaust failures earlier in the week. We think we understand them now.
"We've got a different spec of exhaust coming for Melbourne and we think we know why they were cracking. It was one of our parts, we still make the whole system."