Kimi Raikkonen still believes he is fast enough to fight at the front in Formula 1, despite struggling to find his form with Ferrari this season.
Raikkonen returned to the Scuderia this year after two successful seasons with Lotus, but has so far failed to beat his new teammate Fernando Alonso in 11 grands prix. Spaniard Alonso has scored 88 points more than Raikkonen and outqualified the Finn nine times, but the 2007 world champion says the difficult run has not shaken his faith in his own ability.
"It's been a difficult year but that's life," Raikkonen said. "It's not fun when you have hard times but it's happened before and that's how it goes.
"We try to make things better all the time, make fewer mistakes, and get the car where I want it to be to be fast again. I know I haven't suddenly lost over the winter a few seconds of lap time."
Raikkonen remains adamant it is only minor issues preventing him from producing better results.
"It's a case of putting things in the right order for me," he said. "Unfortunately we haven't managed to do it here and there.
"Sometimes we have one day, one practice, in some places where we are absolutely fine, but we're still fighting against things a lot and obviously then the results show where we end up."
The Finn's sixth place in the last race in Hungary was his best result of the season so far. Fifth on the Bahrain GP grid is his highest qualifying slot to date.
"If it would be easy, as sometimes it goes, we would be laughing, but it's not the case this year," Raikkonen added. "I have trust in the team but obviously there have to be changes and improvements, But it can only happen when we work as a team."