Kimi Raikkonen says Lotus has the right people and has the finances but just needs a little more funding to really challenge the bigger teams such as Red Bull and Ferrari.
Lotus challenge on a budget compared to Red Bull and Ferrari
On his return to F1 last season, following a two-year sabbatical to try his hand at rallying, Raikkonen was within sight of main contenders Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso for most of the campaign.
At one stage, after the Belgian Grand Prix in August, Raikkonen was 33 points adrift of then-leader Alonso, but beyond that he never managed to get within striking distance, despite a victory at Abu Dhabi.
The Finn ended the year in third place, 74 points behind the champion Vettel, which was still a remarkable achievement for him and the team based in the small Oxfordshire town of Enstone.
Raikkonen described his 20th career win as "easy", yet despite the success, it is fair to say the team lack the financial clout of their main rivals.
However, the veteran driver, 33, is convinced Lotus can fight it out with Red Bull Racing, Ferrari, Mercedes-GP and McLaren-Mercedes over the next 18 races. "There was a big question mark against us last year as to whether we could keep up with the bigger teams," Raikkonen said. "It's not going to be easy for us. We have the people, all the tools to make it, but money is a big part of it.
"We don't have the same budget as Ferrari, Red Bull or Mercedes, but we saw last year we did well with money and the things we have.
"If we could get more money that would help, and it will give us a better chance and more fair play against the bigger teams."
The Finn added that he believed the team had a good set-up for the year ahead.
"We have good plans, and if we can follow them up it might be good, it might not," he said.
"If you do things right it will go nicely, but then one thing can change the whole year. If you do a few things a little bit wrong it can turn around and go downhill after that. So we just have to do the normal things, like we did last year, and put good effort into new parts. If we're happy we keep them, if not we have to look more closely.
"So far it has been good, so there is no reason why we can't keep it up."
One of Lotus' key problems is a lack of a title sponsor, unlike the other four teams. Having a major brand behind them presumably would bring in the additional finances required. The team principal Eric Boullier insists negotiations are continuing with a number of potential backers.
"We're doing everything we can," the Frenchman said.
"We're talking to many major partners, and I believe - even if they don't say anything - that they feel we are a top team now, not a one-off that has got lucky."
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