Franck Montagny has made a bleak assessment not only of ailing Lotus' 2014 prospects, but also Williams' chances of mounting a title challenge this season.
Lotus' campaign so far has been nothing short of disastrous as the visually-striking E22 struggles not only for pace but also merely to run.
"It is a really complicated situation for them," Montagny, the former Super Aguri driver turned pundit for French television, told Le Figaro.
"They lost Eric Boullier to McLaren, but that's not the only thing -- they are a hundred people less at Enstone after the winter.
"100 people is significant and cannot be easily overcome. Today, I do not see how they can go back to the top of the table.
"They will be able to fight for the points but aiming higher, I would say, seems very difficult," Montagny added.
Montagny, 36, also commented on the resurgent British team Williams, who are currently believed to have the second fastest car behind Mercedes.
"But we have to be cautious because by half-time in the championship, Williams will not have the resources to continue to develop as aggressively as the big teams," Montagny predicted.