London: Lotus have set their sights on a top-three finish in this year’s Formula One world championship after becoming the first team to unveil their car for the forthcoming campaign.
Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen and team bosses gathered at their headquarters in Enstone, Oxfordshire, on Monday to reveal a car they believe is capable of making a significant impact on the track this year.
With few significant changes to the regulations for 2013, the E21 bears what technical director James Allison described as a “family resemblance” to last year’s model, but with some key improvements.
Last year Raikkonen finished third in the drivers’ championship, with Lotus finishing fourth in the constructors as they amassed over 300 points, just 75 adrift of third-placed McLaren.
With Red Bull and Ferrari also ahead of them in the pecking order, it appears a tall order for Lotus to overhaul such rivals in the constructors chart.
But chairman Gerard Lopez and team principal Eric Boullier are confident they can show last season was no flash in the pan.
“Third place is at least an achievement we would like to have this year,” Boullier said.
“We obviously expect to pick up the momentum from 2012. There is some stability in the regulations, with both drivers more eager than ever. We will fight with everything we can to be in the top three.”
It was an impressive campaign for Lotus last year as Raikkonen, returning to F1 after two years away, finished in the points in 19 of the 20 races.
The Finn scored the team’s first win since 2008, when they were formerly known as Renault, by taking the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi in November.
Raikkonen concedes it will be tough to repeat that feat, but he is determined to do everything possible to make it happen.
“It’s not going to be easy to improve on what we did last year,” he said.
“But that’s the aim, to do better, and hopefully we can do it. We put our trust in the people who made last year’s car and who have made this one.
“We try to improve in all areas. If you can qualify further up the grid, then it gives you a better chance to win races and makes your life a lot easier on race days.
“It’s the whole package they’ve tried to make faster, and hopefully we’ve managed to do it.”