The first American Formula One team in 30 years shot the moon when driver Romain Grosjean finished sixth in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Grosjean backed it up by orbiting to an even more impressive fifth-place finish two weeks later in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
But in round three in Shanghai at China, the Banbury team’s metaphorical space exploration became grounded when Grosjean and team-mate Esteban Gutiérrez struggled with the aerodynamic and mechanical balance of their respective VF-16s.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, team boss Guenther Steiner said: “I think at some point we always knew we’d have a setback. We’ll just try again in Russia to get it right and end up where we should be.
“The silver lining is we finished with two cars, which was a first for us. It wasn’t as successful as we wanted it to be, position-wise.
“As a new team, I would want an opportunity to test a few more days than the other teams. It’s more about the team working together and getting to know the car better than trying to invent something new.
“It’s not about going faster. It’s about not making mistakes so you don’t go slower.”