Kimi Raikkonen says he does not rule himself out as a title contender going into the second half of the Formula 1 season.
Nine races into his comeback campaign with Lotus the former world champion sits fifth in the standings, 46 points behind leader Fernando Alonso. Although Raikkonen said he was not thinking of himself as being in the middle of a title fight, he feels he is currently still in contention if Lotus can improve or maintain its form.
"I have no reason to say I wouldn't try," said Raikkonen. "I'm not here just to drive around. But I have no idea if we're going to be up there in the end or not.
"We're still not 100 percent happy with how things have gone on all the weekends, but I would say that's what I was expecting. You don't think that everything will be perfect. It's still quite early days in the season and we are still up there. You can't rule anything out."
He believes Lotus has the potential to remain with the front-runners until the end of the season.
"I think overall we've been pretty strong everywhere," Raikkonen said. "We just have to work and improve. If we do everything 100 percent right we can improve the car at the same rate as the others and then we should have a chance."
Raikkonen remains convinced that Lotus had the pace to be among the leaders in the last round in Britain had he not lost ground on the first lap.
"Without that, I'm sure we would've had the speed to fight at the front," said Raikkonen, who ultimately finished fifth – but only 10 seconds behind winner Mark Webber. "We've just ended up losing out at the start in the last two races for different reasons and if you put yourself in the wrong position unfortunately you cannot use your speed."