Raikkonen looking for more from Lotus E21

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Kimi Raikkonen has told Lotus that they need to make improvements and continue to develop the E21 car if they are to challenge Sebastian Vettel for the 2013 world championship.

The Finnish driver has made a good start to the season, winning one race and claiming two further podiums, but he still feels that the team needs to make improvements, particularly in qualifying.

“To catch the leaders, we have to work twice as hard as they are,” Raikkonen told Autosport.

“It’s no secret that we want more speed from the car in qualifying; it’s so tight up there at the front and we really need to be on the first two rows to fight for victories every time.”

Despite the need to improve, Raikkonen felt that Lotus is well placed to challenge Red Bull at the start of the European season in Barcelona next weekend.

“It’s good to be able to start the European season where we are as this is when you see teams starting to push on with lots of new parts for the cars.

“It’s still early days, but to have scored strong points since the start of the year is obviously better than not having them.”

Lotus appears to be in the running for the title this season, with the aggressive Pirelli tires suiting the E21 car. However, Raikkonen has failed to challenge the frontrunners in qualifying so far this season, and he will be hoping for a change in fortunes if he is to repeat his 2008 victory at the Circuit de Catalunya.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.