Kimi Raikkonen is confident his Lotus team will be quick enough to fight for a podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix after his near-miss in China, and the squad reckons its upgrades should also work better at Sakhir than at Shanghai.
Raikkonen was running second going into the closing stages in China, but the strategy of pitting twice with a very long final stint backfired. As his tires faded, Raikkonen tumbled right back to 14th. Although the Finn's best result of his comeback so far was fifth in Malaysia, he says Lotus has been quick enough for a podium everywhere, and hopes to prove this in Bahrain.
"A podium should be possible and I think it has been at all the races we've been at so far," he said. "We won't know exactly how good the car is until we get there, but we don't expect any problems."
Raikkonen added that he had no regrets about the China strategy, which paid off for his team-mate Romain Grosjean as a longer middle and shorter second stint helped the Frenchman to achieve sufficient tire mileage to finish sixth.
"It looked the best one for us and it worked for Romain," said Raikkonen. "If we had the same information again, we'd probably try the same approach. It didn't work, but you don't know these things unless you try them. We will now know better for next time.
"We were pretty close to finishing on the podium. We didn't. That's racing."
Lotus technical director James Allison said the team had not been able to show its full potential in China as issues with the weather and tyres hampered its upgrade package. Allison expects Bahrain to be a different story.
"We weren't able to unlock the pace we thought we had brought with the upgrades and that was frustrating," he said. "It was a very awkward weekend and not just for us. We were dealing with a tire that was just popping in and out of the edge of its operating window from a temperature point of view. That made it ever so hard to make coherent decisions about whether what you had done to the car was a good thing or a bad thing. That was confusing for us, but we pulled everything reasonably back together.
"We go to Bahrain knowing that we're going to have more consistent temperatures with the tires! That will allow us to assess the upgrade package with a more level set of conditions. We'll get as much of it on as we can prove is good. There are a couple of new bits coming for the car, such as a new pushrod.
"We will benefit from more time with the bits we took to China, but ultimately didn't use for the race."