Kimi Raikkonen believes that Lotus has got on top of the reliability issues it suffered in pre-season testing, but isn't yet ready to predict whether he can be a title threat.
The Finn starred on his return to F1 last season, capping a remarkable reliability record with victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and third place in the final standings, but has struggled to rack up the same amount of mileage as his rivals in the build-up to this weekend's Australian Grand Prix.
When the E21 wasn't in the garage, however, both Raikkonen and team-mate Romain Grosjean
have generally been at the sharp end of the timesheets, giving the 2007 world champion confidence ahead of the coming campaign.
“It's difficult to say, but we will see after maybe two or three races where we are,” he told the media in Melbourne, “We had a few small issues [in testing] and, unfortunately, the issues just took a long time to fix. That happens, [but] I think we should be OK.
“There are always things that can go wrong, but I think we are more or less, speed-wise, similar to where we were last year. Like I said, it's difficult to say exactly where we will be, [but] we'll see [on Friday].”
While his results may have suggested otherwise, Raikkonen was still showing signs of rust from his two-year sojourn in rallying at this time last year. The Finn, however, insists that, despite being back in the F1 groove this time around, it won't necessarily make his task any easier.
“I don't think it's going to really change anything,” he noted, “I know the team, so it should be a bit easier to start the year, but there is no promise that this will give you better results. It's another year and we'll just try to do as well as we can.”