Heikki Kovalainen has today tipped Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso for the 2010 driver’s title. The Finn, who was recently confirmed at the Malaysian-owned Lotus squad, reckons the two stand the best chance in the field, driving a McLaren and a Ferrari respectively.
“My guess is that it is between Lewis and Alonso,” the new Lotus driver told AUTOSPORT.
But Kovalainen was quick to note that he had forgotten someone, and that the return of that someone would be very good for the sport.
“…but I don’t know how Mercedes GP will get on with Michael [Schumacher]. It will be interesting for the sport he is coming back, hopefully we get more fans – all his fans – coming back, and get more crowd to the races.
“We need to get more people coming to the races. We need to get more full grandstands, like we had some races towards the end of the season. It will be interesting to see how his pace compares to the guys that aren’t strong at the moment.
“My feeling is that he will be strong. He wouldn’t be coming back if he didn’t feel he was up for it – but he is 41-years-old. The reactions are getting slower, and physically he must have some handicap. But his bar is very high.
“Like I said, if he didn’t think he would be strong enough to fight for the championship, then I don’t think he will have bothered coming back.”
He also backed his former engine supplier, Mercedes, to construct a good car.
“They might have a very good car and it will be interesting to see how the drivers get on, and Jenson – how he finds McLaren and how that starts to work out there and how the races are going. But my gut feeling is that it is between Lewis and Alonso.”
The McLaren refugee went on to say that despite his conjecture, he was in fact more concerned with his own season and the personal impact he can make at the fledgling team opposite Jarno Trulli.
“But it doesn’t matter to me too much, to be honest. If Lotus have a quick enough car then hopefully we will be there! But I think that is a bit unrealistic, and certainly I am not expecting it.
“If we are able to build a car that is at the front of the grid just like that, then something is wrong. Other teams must have done something really bad, or it is not realistic. That is my feeling what is going to happen at the front.”