The Finn was beaten only by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in Shanghai qualifying, beating the Ferraris and Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes to the outside front row spot.
But Raikkonen remains sceptical about Lotus’s pace.
“I knew the gap was quite big still and we don’t have that speed right now,” he said.
“Second is not too bad, it is the best I can gain with the team. I’d rather be in first place, but we didn’t have the speed.
“We’re missing downforce in the middle sector so we will see what we can do tomorrow.”
Raikkonen believes the Lotus package has a similar level of competitiveness to its potential in Malaysia, but that the team is doing a better job of getting that pace out of the car this weekend.
“We had a very small update, I would say it is the same as in the last race,” he said.
“It seems to be working OK. We have some issues with some stuff, but it’s a similar story to Malaysia.
“The car works the way I want it to. It has been a pretty tricky weekend to get things exactly right, it’s very sensitive, but we are happy to be where we are now.”
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel and McLaren’s Jenson Button chose to sit out the pole battle and run medium tyres in Q3, hoping for a race strategy advantage.
Raikkonen was confident Lotus’s tactics were right.
“We believe our strategy is the best one, that is why we did it,” he said. “If qualifying was better on primes, then you would do it.”
This is a syndicated post, which originally appeared at F1 news – AUTOSPORT.com.