Kimi Raikkonen has said Lotus has 'got' to make a step forward in the coming races, if they are to fight it out at the very front with the likes of Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari.
Raikkonen had to settle for twelfth in qualifying on Saturday in Singapore and while he did battle back through on race day and eventually finished in sixth, one place in front of his team-mate, Romain Grosjean, who let him by, he felt he had still been held up by Mercedes duo Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.
Furthermore while P6 overall was enough to keep the Finn third in the drivers' championship, with Fernando Alonso finishing third, Raikkonen lost further ground to the Ferrari pilot. Indeed he is now 45 points adrift with six races to go.
“After the result in qualifying today's race was not too bad, but I think we had a chance to do a bit better,” Raikkonen said. “We weren't quick enough to be fighting for the podium but the first safety car didn't help us and maybe we could have gained an extra place without that.
“We were definitely faster than Michael and Nico but we ended up stuck behind them for most of the race which was frustrating.
“It's so hard to overtake here that you have to rely on passing people in the pit stops or on someone making a mistake.
“I'm still third in the Drivers' Championship but we've got some improvements to make for the next races to be fighting with the cars in front. Hopefully we can make a step forward in Japan and take it from there.”
Lotus trackside operations director, Alan Permane meanwhile reckoned qualifying was the reason again for their woe.
“It hasn't been a great weekend for us, so to salvage sixth and seventh is something of a result in the circumstances. We took a gamble with Kimi's second stop, but he was caught by the safety car coming out as he left the pit lane. We certainly didn't have the pace to challenge the front runners today and after a difficult qualifying session it was difficult to get through the field.
“It's clear we need to do a better job in qualifying to enable us to achieve better race results,” he added.