Kimi Raikkonen says the ongoing development of the new E21 will be key in deciding how successful Lotus can be during the 2013 season on the back of his victory in Australia.
The Finn secured an impressive success in Melbourne for his second win since returning to the sport, making a two-stop strategy work to perfection as he beat Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel to the top step of the podium.
Lotus will hope that Raikkonen's win is the catalyst for a championship challenge during the year ahead, although the former champion admitted it would be a challenge for the team to keep pace with its rivals as the season goes on and the development battle hots up.
“There was a big question mark last year over whether our team could keep up with the development of the bigger teams and I don't think we did a bad job,” he said. “Of course it's not going to be easy for us. I'm sure we have the people and all the tools to make it happen. Budget is always a factor and it's no secret that we don't have the same money as Ferrari, Red Bull or Mercedes. If we did have more sponsors I'm sure we'd have a better chance in the battle against those teams.
“It's a long season. If you do things right it will go nicely but one thing can change the whole year. You do a few things a little bit wrong it can turn around and go downhill after that. So we just have to do our normal things, like we did last year and put the good effort into new parts and if we're happy we keep them and if not we have to look more closely. But like I said, so far it has been good, so there is no reason why we can't keep it up.”
Sepang is a circuit where Raikkonen has gone well in the past, and was the scene of his first victory in F1 back in 2003 while with McLaren.
While that leaves him in confident mood for the weekend ahead, the Finn admitted he wasn't getting too carried away about the season ahead, with his aims having not changed despite his Albert Park success.
“Malaysia has been good and bad for me in the past,” he conceded. “I've had a few bad races there but I've also won three times at the circuit including my first Grand Prix victory so it's nice to go back to where it all began with my first win. For sure I will always remember that my first win came in Malaysian Grand Prix in 2003.
“It feels good [to have won the season opener] but it's only after one race. It doesn't really change our aim and how we approach this year. Definitely, we are happy with the win but there is an awful lot to still to do to win the championship. We seemed to have a good car in Albert Park, so hopefully it works well in the next races also.”