Kimi Raikkonen says he is optimistic about his chances during the 2013 F1 season as the Finn prepares to get his campaign underway this weekend in Australia.
Raikkonen enjoyed an impressive return to action last year with the Lotus team, winning in Abu Dhabi and scoring in every race bar one to secure third place in the championship.
On the back of those results, Raikkonen will now aim to challenge for the title again during the season ahead and the 2007 champion said he was sure that the new E21 would allow him to take forward steps in his second year back on the grid.
“I think you always want more, but this car is a pretty good starting point and we'll see; hopefully we're fast enough,” he said. “I don't think there's any area where it feels worse than last year's car; so far everything is better. We had good speed last year, but not enough to win the championship.
“That means we need more speed this year. If we can get just a little more from the car and keep our consistency, with some better results at the beginning of the year, then we should have a much better chance. “
Raikkonen's pre-season programme didn't pass without issue but the former Ferrari
man said he wasn't concerned about a lack of mileage compared to his rivals going into the new campaign.
“We had some problems in testing but we still completed quite a few laps,” he said. “Of course, you always want more laps, but it is what it is. We're all going racing and then we'll really see where we're at. I'm not really concerned about reliability or anything like that as it was the same problem which caused us the biggest problems in testing and we're on top of that now.
“You can never be 100 per cent certain of course, but if you look at last season we had problems before the start of the year then we were pretty good when we got to the races. Of course we hope that we can perform better than last year, but let's see how it goes.”
With Raikkonen hoping to again launch a title challenge, technical director James Allison agreed that it was possible that the team could be in the mix, with things expected to be closer than they were last year.
“It's not beyond the realms of possibility,” he replied when asked if a title challenge was possible. “It looks like we're entering an exceedingly close season from the evidence we've seen so far. Our car doesn't look bad against the opposition from what we can deduce, and we have a good team and good drivers behind it. It's certainly closer than last year, but we expected this going into a second season of relatively stable regulations.
“I think that from right back in Jerez
it was clear that there are a number of quick teams out there. I think it was also clear from the first test that we have the potential to be one of them and the evidence of our running so far hasn't done anything to dispel that. We'll be in the hunt for podiums and very much looking for race wins.”