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'It's going to be hard to catch Vettel' - Raikkonen

ESPN Staff
May 3, 2013 « Mercedes keen to offer Kubica F1 test | Spain upgrades won't define McLaren's season - Button »
Kimi Raikkonen finished second to Sebastian Vettel in Bahrain © Sutton Images
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Kimi Raikkonen says Lotus has to work twice as hard as it rivals if he is to stay in contention for the championship this year.

Raikkonen is currently second in the title race, 10 points off championship leader Sebastian Vettel, with three podium finishes since the start of the season. However, Raikkonen is not getting carried away and says Lotus needs to start outperforming Red Bull if he is going to stand a chance.

"For sure it's an okay start and we're in a better position that this time last year, but there's a long season ahead and it's too early to say if we can fight for the championships right to the end," Raikkonen said. "It's going to be hard to catch Sebastian 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."

Raikkonen said Lotus needs to focus on qualifying pace to start taking the fight to rivals Red Bull.

"To catch the leaders, we have to work twice as hard as they are," he added. "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."

Asked if he was happy with his second-place finish behind Vettel at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Raikkonen said: "You're never really happy if you don't win, but I suppose second place is as close as you can get. We could maybe have been a few places higher in qualifying which would have made things easier, but I drove to the maximum and luckily we found the pace in the car that was missing in qualifying. Let's hope I'm happier in Spain."