Lotus hope to challenge in every race

Tuesday 24-April-2012 08:33

Now that Lotus have finally made it onto the podium, team principal Eric Boullier is confident they will be there or thereabouts when it comes to challenging for race wins for the remainder of the season.

After a frustrating start to the 2012 campaign, things finally fell into place for the Enstone squad in Bahrain this weekend as they walked away with two podium finishes with Kimi Raikkonen claiming P2 and Romain Grosjean making it into the top three for the first time in his career.

Confidence in the camp is naturally high and Boullier is delighted that they reaped the rewards for their hard work.

"I am very happy for the team because they have worked very hard," he told Press Association Sport. "After the frustration we've experienced at the start of the season it has finally paid off.

"Now there's a sort of relief because I'm happy to prove we can do it. To be on the podium with both cars shows we can play for the big points now."

Raikkonen had a small window of opportunity to grab the win at the Sakhir circuit as he came close to overtaking eventual winner Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull during the latter stages of the race.

Although Boullier refused to be drawn on whether a win is possible, he feels his team will be challenging.

"I don't know if the potential is there because it's very tight this year," the Frenchman added.

"We will see, we will take it as it comes, and I don't want to be more ambitious than we should be. But it's good to be fighting for the podiums and the points, and if we have an opportunity to win, then of course we will grab it.

"As to whether we can challenge through the season, I think we will. Nobody is dominating. That means it's open at every race, so I hope we can put ourselves in a position to challenge in every race."

Meanwhile, three-time World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart hailed Raikkonen's performance as "amazing".

After returning to F1 following two years away from the sport, many questioned whether he was still good enough to compete at the highest level, but Stewart feels he has proved the doubter wrong.

"It's a genuinely great performance by a very good team of people who have come together so well," Stewart, who is currently a brand ambassador for team owners Genii, said.

"It's not been easy to take over a team, to get them to gel and get them all to come together. But it was a great performance, and I'm sure everybody back at Enstone must be out of their mind with joy."

"Kimi's performance, in particular, after so many people had doubted whether he could come back and be successful, was amazing. Most people thought he wouldn't have the fitness to do a whole race. A lot of people were making those kind of comments.

"So to come back and answer them like he did, and in only his fourth race...and he could have won it, it was that close at one point.

"As for Grosjean, in his first full proper season, it was a very mature drive. He didn't make any mistakes, stayed out of trouble.

"So I'm thrilled for the whole team, and the other side is that (Lotus founder) Colin Chapman must be pretty pleased up there looking down.

"They've hardly had any success since the team broke up, so it's great, fantastic."

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