sport

Raikkonen: We have a chance

Kimi Raikkonen is convinced he is in with a chance of claiming the Formula One championship this season.

On his return to the sport last season after two years experimenting with rallying, Raikkonen concedes he surprised even himself with his third place finish in the standings behind Red Bull's triple world champion Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari.

The Finn's victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November for Lotus, who emerged as the surprise package of the campaign, was just reward for a consistent year.

However, it means much is now expected of the Enstone-based marque for this season that starts in Australia in just over three weeks' time, despite the fact their budget does not compare to that of their main rivals.

Even so, Raikkonen firmly believes he is in the hunt as he said: "You have to be realistic about your chances, but after last year we should have a chance.

"We don't have the budget, but if we get it right, can be consistent and reliable then we probably can put ourselves in a position where at least we do have a chance.

"We will try, but I'm not making promises."

As far as improvement for this season goes, Raikkonen's target is a simple one because when asked by F1's official website as to what would represent a good year, he replied: "Last year with additional wins."

Although Lotus may lack the funds of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren, at least the 33-year-old - he is now the second oldest driver in the sport behind Mark Webber - feels happy and content with the team.

After years of towing the corporate line, primarily with McLaren and to a lesser extent Ferrari, he has hailed Lotus as "a real racing team".

Raikkonen added: "They want to race and not worry about the other stuff. There are not many teams that do that.

"There is far less politics than at many other teams. I enjoy it here.

"Sure there are things the team doesn't have, but we are all trying to do the best we can with what we have."