Lotus: Raikkonen can win title
Technical Director backing Finn's push for Championship
By William Esler. Last Updated: August 22, 2012 2:13pm
Lotus Technical Director James Allison says Kimi Raikkonen can still win the 2012 Drivers' Championship despite trailing Fernando Alonso by 48 points at the mid-season break.
The Finn is embarking on his first year back in the sport after spending two years competing in rallying having had his contract with Ferrari terminated at the end of the 2009 season.
Raikkonen is yet to win since making his return but has consistently shown impressive pace, finishing on the podium four times during the opening 11 rounds of the season.
"Yeah, why not," Allison said when asked if the Finn could still mount a title challenge.
"There is an awful lot of points for coming first and there are a lot of races left to be done. The lead is miniscule compared to the points available.
"And anyone who can string together a run of properly competitive races, without mistakes, is going to prosper and the sort of gaps we have in the Championship at the moment are ever so recoverable for a team that does that.
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"That's clearly what we are intending to do, that's clearly what Kimi is intending to do and I think it will be fascinating for anyone who likes this sport to watch the battles that are going to ensue over the second half of the season."
Lotus currently sit third in the Constructors' Championship, just one point behind second-placed McLaren, and Allison admits the team have surpassed their aims for 2012.
"Our official target was fourth," he said. "That is what we set at the start of the year. That is a stiff thing to ask of this team as this is a very difficult sport to prosper in.
"I think we can do better than that, I think it is going to be tight all the way to the end of the year, I think we have the car and we have the drivers to go better than that."
The Enstone-based team are hopeful of maintaining the same driver line-up of Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean next season, something they have not had since 2006 when the then-Renault team paired Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella in back-to-back campaigns.
The paddock has been awash with rumours that Raikkonen could be on the move at the end of the season, but, Allison sees no reason for the Finn to leave and believes the continuity will help the team.
"I sincerely hope so," he said when asked if the 2007 World Champion would stay with Lotus.
"He doesn't give us any reason to think that he is going elsewhere. I think he likes it with us and I think we are giving him competitive equipment and it is a very straightforward working environment for any driver who comes and drives in our team.
"I think one of the reasons I am so excited about the second half of the season is both our drivers have their tails up, both of them are absolutely on song and we have bedded in with them and them with us and we are now making the most I hope of what is a very strong driver line-up.
"It will be important for us to carry that into next year, we won't have to do any of the engineering bedding in to do that we have to do when we have a new driver, if we can have that continuity.
"For the second half of this year it is going to be great. We are all working very nicely together, and if we can carry that through to the following year, which no doubt we will, that will be an advantage for us.""