Kimi Raikkonen thinks that Lotus is closer to the front than it was this time last year, but concedes that Sebastian Vettel is clearly ahead.
With the opening practice day for the Australian Grand Prix pointing towards Red Bull being clear at the front, Raikkonen sees nothing to suggest that his outfit is not in the chasing pack behind.
"I think even compared to the last races [of 2012], it feels like we are a bit closer," said Raikkonen, when asked if he felt Lotus was stronger than 12 months ago.
"We saw Vettel being fast today but all the rest, everybody else, it looks tight and they are close to each other.
"But it is only the first Friday. So let's see how it goes in the first two races and we will go from there."
The fact that Vettel's pace-setting time came after his super soft tyres were past their best points to the German having a significant advantage.
However, Raikkonen does not think that Lotus has shown its best potential just yet either.
"For sure we can improve ourselves also quite a bit," he explained. "They [Red Bull] were fast on the harder tyres, so you expect that they would have been a bit faster on the super soft. But you never know.
"Some other teams did not improve so much with the super soft. But it is what it is and the race is a different story. It is just the first Friday."
AUTOSPORT Australian GP coverage:
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