|© Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic/Lotus
Lotus’ rivals have pegged the team to challenge the frontrunners in a bid for the title this season, after the British team bagged a double podium finish at the recently concluded Hungarian Grand Prix.
Kimi Raikkonen and teammate Romain Grosjean have featured on the podium eighth times between them this season, although the pair is yet to win a race.
The Finn, however, came close to winning his first Grand Prix since his return to Formula 1 twice - in Hungary and earlier in Bahrain – indicating that a victory is not far away.
"Their car has been quick all year, and they have two good drivers, so Kimi is a factor in the drivers' championship," reckoned Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
"He is only one point behind Lewis (Hamilton), so it would be foolish to underestimate any of our rivals at the moment and there is still a long way to go," he pointed out.
Raikkonen is fifth in the standings, 48 points behind championship leader Fernando Alonso.
"I was not surprised by Kimi because I have always thought Kimi is a very good driver and a world champion - which you don't do unless you have something special," Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali was quoted saying by AFP.
"I think that Lotus didn't collect the points that they were able to collect. They have had a good car since the beginning, so they could have more points,” he observed referring to its third place in the constructors’ championship, a solitary point behind McLaren.
"They seem to be very gentle on the tyres too, and they will be a very good team in the second half of the season," Domenicali noted.
Lotus’ recent pace allowed the team to ruffle McLaren’s order this year, after the Woking-based outfit ran in through a bad patch.
"Yeah they are fast, but worrying about them doesn't do anything,” acknowledged McLaren sporting director Sam Michael. “You have to make the car faster.”