Kimi focuses on title challenge, not future
Kimi Raikkonen is confident he can put questions about his future to one side and fight for the Formula One title this season.
Four races into the season, the 2007 champion is second overall and only 10 points behind three-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel heading into this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.
Rather than play down his chances of a second F1 title, the 33-year-old Finn is optimistic enough to predict it could be his year again.
"A year ago we were not in this strong position, so it would be stupid to say we're not going to fight for championships," Raikkonen said on Thursday. "The only reason why you're here is to try to win championships and races, so we want to fight for it."
Raikkonen has nearly twice as many points - 67 - as he did at the same stage last season when he was seventh with 34 points before finishing the season in third place overall.
"I don't see why we should be surprised. We did pretty well last year and we've been quite consistent and fast this year," he said. "I think I know the team and they know me and we have more experience. We've put ourselves in a strong position."
One area where Lotus must improve is qualifying, with Raikkonen managing only one good qualifying result in China, where he started second from the grid and finished the race in second place. He qualified in seventh, 10th and eighth place in the other three grand prix.
"If we can improve the car we will automatically improve the qualifying and it will improve our race," he said. "They all go hand (in) hand. There's no magic ... I cannot predict anything and there's no point to try and guess what will happen (this weekend)."
He will get a clearer indication of whether upgrades to the Lotus prove beneficial when practice starts on Friday.
This could yet prove to be his final year with Lotus, however, as he admits he is no closer to knowing whether he will stay next season.
"I don't know what I (will) do. Like I said, my decision will be purely on what I think is the best overall for me," said Raikkonen, who won the season-opening Australian GP. "I'm not really even putting much (thought) into it, because we only have done four races. So it's still an awful long season to go."
The chances of him staying may have been weakened by the departure of technical director James Allison, who left on Wednesday and has been replaced by Nick Chester.
Speculation has linked Allison with a move to Ferrari - where he previously worked. That would reunite him with two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso, with whom Allison worked when the Spaniard won his titles driving for Renault.
Losing such a highly rated technician could prove disruptive to a team challenging for honours on two fronts, with Lotus sitting in second place in the constructors' championship, 16 points behind Red Bull.
"For me it doesn't really make a difference, but like I said I cannot tell if it makes a difference (to others) in one week or one year, or maybe it doesn't," Raikkonen said. "I think there's a lot of strong people (in the team) and it should be fine."
Whether the transition continues into next season with Raikkonen on board remains to be seen, as there has yet to be a new contract offer amid rumors that he could join Vettel at Red Bull next year, with Mark Webber widely tipped to be leaving.
Raikkonen would not be drawn on whether he would like to race for Red Bull, but needs certain assurances before deciding his future.
"I am purely putting my effort into this race and this year, and if anything happens people will know," he said. "Everybody always talks about it, but I'm not in a hurry."