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Kimi Raikkonen: Lotus can win F1 title

updated 1:06 PM EST, Tue January 29, 2013
Finland's Kimi Raikkonen was crowned the Formula One world champion while driving for Ferrari in 2007.
Finland's Kimi Raikkonen was crowned the Formula One world champion while driving for Ferrari in 2007.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kimi Raikkonen says he can win the world champions with Lotus
  • The Finn was crowned drivers' champion with Ferrari in 2007
  • Raikkonen finished 2012 in third position, behind Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso
  • His current deal with Lotus expires at the end of the season

(CNN) -- Never let it be said that Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen is lacking in confidence.

Although he managed to finish third last season, the Finn was still a whopping 74 points behind world champion Sebastian Vettel, but former world champion Raikkonen remains confident that Lotus can challenge the sport's elite in the coming season.

"It's clear from working with them that they are racers, and you can see in their history that they've won championships," the 33-year-old driver, who won the drivers' championship with Ferrari in 2007, told Lotus' official website as the team became the first to unveil its new 2013 car this week.

The Finn made his return to F1 in 2012 after a two-year absence and propelled his Lotus car towards the front of the grid, grabbing a win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on his way to finishing third in the drivers' championship.

Read: Motorcycling star Stoner switches to cars

"Nothing I saw last year made me think that another championship was impossible in the future," added Raikkonen. "Of course, there is some pretty tough competition out there and everyone wants to win.

"The team have beaten everyone before and there's nothing to say they can't do it again."

Many observers were surprised to see Raikkonen, who spent time racing in NASCAR and the World Rally Championship during his two-year absence, return to F1 and enjoy immediate success despite being a veteran of 19 previous grands prix wins.

Read: Hamilton not expecting miracles at Mercedes

But Raikkonen never lost doubt in his own ability as a driver.

"I knew I could still perform well in Formula 1 given the right opportunity," the Finn continued. "It was only other people who had doubts.

"There will be a new car which we'll want to develop and get working at its best. There are always changes in the sport; some small, some big. Generally everything's pretty similar, and the feeling of racing on track is pretty familiar."

Raikkonen is entering the final year of his contract with the British-based team, but he is yet to sit down and discuss his future.

"I'm not really thinking beyond this season at the moment, but I'm sure there will be talk before the end of the year," said Raikkonen, who will turn 34 in October.

"I enjoyed my comeback to Formula One last year and there's no reason to say I shouldn't enjoy the 2013 season too. I know there will be big changes to the cars and regulations for 2014, so who's to say that won't be exciting."

Raikkonen and his teammate Romain Grosjean will both be on the track for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 17.

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