The punters had their money on the wrong comeback kid on Saturday, as the favourite Kimi Raikkonen qualified just eighth in Monaco.
Even when Michael Schumacher moves back five places from pole in order to serve his Barcelona penalty, the 43-year-old will still be ahead of Raikkonen on the grid, as Lotus failed to deliver on its promise in the Principality.
“A victory (for Lotus) is almost overdue now,” said German RTL commentator Christian Danner.
However, the sister E20 driven by Romain Grosjean is still in the hunt, moving forward a place due to Schumacher’s penalty from fifth to the second row of the grid. And Danner thinks Lotus is still right in the long game.
“I think eventually the championship will come down to three teams: Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus,” he said.
Based on qualifying, however, Monaco might be a big ask.
“The Lotus is the most consistent car,” Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is quoted by Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo. “But, from behind like this, it will be difficult to win.”
Mike Hakkinen is still tipping his Finnish countryman, though.
“I believe he (Raikkonen) is a better driver now than when he stopped,” he told broadcaster MTV3 in Monaco.
Ultimately, it is the winner of the Pirelli ‘lottery’ who might be the winner in 2012. But Danner, a former driver, does not agree with that.
“I see the debate about the tyres as overrated,” he insisted. “‘Lottery’ I think is wrong because Pirelli is providing an absolutely professional playing field, the same for everyone.
“We just have a season with an incredibly balanced field,” said Danner. “It’s not an accident that the two double world champions Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel are at the top.”