Feb.16 (GMM) Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel has flagged his friend Kimi Raikkonen as a potential pretender to his throne in 2012.
After becoming friends prior to Raikkonen's rallying switch two years ago, German Vettel has stayed in contact with the Finn, occasionally meeting in their domiciled Switzerland to play badminton.
They did not manage to catch up at the Jerez test last week, but Red Bull's Vettel admitted the pace of Raikkonen's new Lotus caught his eye.
"If it's as good as it seemed at Jerez, then Kimi is a serious opponent," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. Not trying to play down Lotus' impressive debut for the black and gold E20 car is the team's technical director, James Allison.
But the Briton also urged against getting carried away, with two tests at Barcelona still to run before the Melbourne season opener next month.
If it's as good as it seemed at Jerez, then Kimi is a serious opponent
"We all try to know what is happening with the other teams, but in any case, we won't know anything definite until Melbourne," he is quoted by L'Equipe's website.
"The most important thing is that the car runs well, not just from a mechanical standpoint, but also in terms of how the drivers feel, which is also important."