Former F1 driver Mika Salo reckons that Kimi Raikkonen could battle it out for the title this year, providing Lotus 'maintains the development' of the E20.

Raikkonen came close to winning in Bahrain last weekend and while he is only seventh currently in the drivers' championship, 19 points behind Sebastian Vettel, Salo still thinks his fellow countryman is a real contender.

"The most consistent team has been Lotus," Salo told Speedtv.com. "They've been fast at every circuit so far. In that sense, Kimi's situation looks very good.

"I would not exclude it at all that he will be fighting at the very end of the championship, if Lotus is able to maintain the pace of development."

Marc Surer, who raced in F1 from 1979-1986, concurs that Lotus' ability to develop the E20 will be key.

"I think Kimi has shown everyone that he is still able to do just what he was doing before [leaving and spending two years in the WRC]. He is a lot younger than [Michael] Schumacher [who also took a break and came back], and if you look at the past 10 years, Kimi is probably one of the best talents that we have seen in F1," Surer told Servus TV in Austria.

"[But] they [Lotus] also began the previous season just as well, but soon after they were nowhere.

"So the real question is, 'Do they have the resources to develop the car and stay where they are now?'"

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