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Kimi Räikkönen believes the early stages of the 2013 Formula 1 campaign will be key to his chances of fighting for the World Championship, with the Lotus driver focused on making a much stronger start to the season than 12 months ago.
The Finn, who was eliminated from the first phase of qualifying in Australia last year and did not record a podium finish until the Bahrain Grand Prix, is confident that if Lotus can make minor gains with its new car, a title bid will be a realistic prospect.
"I think you always want more, but this car is a pretty good starting point and we’ll see; hopefully we’re fast enough," said Räikkönen, who is entering his 11th season. "I don’t think there’s any area where it feels worse than last year’s car; so far everything is better.
"We had good speed last year, but not enough to win the championship. That means we need more speed. If we can get just a little more from the car and keep our consistency, with better results at the beginning of the year, then we should have a much better chance."
Räikkönen is also confident that the reliability issues Lotus suffered throughout pre-season testing will not reappear, stating that the team is on top of the situation.
"We had some problems in testing but we still completed quite a few laps," he explained. "Of course, you always want more laps, but it is what it is. We’re all going racing and then we’ll really see where we’re at. I’m not really concerned about reliability as it was the same problem which caused us the biggest problems in testing and we’re on top of that now.
"You can never be 100 percent certain of course, but if you look at last season we had problems before the start of the year then we were pretty good when we got to the races. We hope that we can perform better than last year, but let’s see how it goes."
'Räikkönen can fight for 2013 title' – Salo
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