Kimi Raikkonen insists that he has to start outscoring Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel if he wants to keep his hopes of a second F1 title alive.

Raikkonen heads into the opening European race of the F1 season in Spain next weekend sitting second to the defending champion in the standings, while his Lotus team are second to Red Bull in the constructors' championship with four races run.

While he is currently only ten points behind Vettel after a solid start to the campaign, including a win in Australia, Raikkonen admitted it was going to be difficult to beat the German in the race for the title, with it vital that he started to outscore the champion in the coming races.

"There's a long season ahead and it's too early to say if we can fight for the Championships right to the end," he said. "It's going to be hard to catch Sebastian [Vettel] if he keeps taking good results so we need to start taking more points from him, but you never know what can happen. We'll keep pushing to improve the car and see where we end up.

"To catch the leaders, we have to work twice as hard as they are. It's no secret that we want more speed from the car in qualifying; it's so tight up there at the front and we really need to be on the first two rows to fight for victories every time. It's good to be able to start the European season where we are as this is when you see teams starting to push on with lots of new parts for the cars.

"It's still early days, but to have scored strong points since the start of the year is obviously better than not having them. We need to keep scoring points in the same way; even if it's a bad weekend for us, we need to keep finishing as well as we can. That's how we will fight to the end of the season."

Raikkonen said he was aiming to finish on the podium for a second successive season in Barcelona but admitted that the fact that the circuit has already been used by teams for testing this year would make it tough to gain any kind of advantage.

"I have won twice in Barcelona and I was on the podium there last year too, so I really look forward to going there again; hopefully to end the weekend with another good result," he said. "It's a circuit where you have to get everything exactly right to be at the top. All the teams have tested many times at this circuit, so to get an advantage there is not very easy.

"The set-up is crucial as the track changes with the wind and temperature so there's plenty of work for the engineers too."



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