May 12 (GMM) Despite not topping a Friday timesheet in Barcelona, one specialist publication sees Lotus as the favourite for Spanish grand prix victory.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said the 'long run' pace of the black and gold E20 was studied carefully after Barcelona practice.
"Kimi Raikkonen made a great impression on the critical soft tyres," the report read.
"If everything goes right, we can be on the podium.
"First, it (the field) is incredibly close. Second, Lotus could win its first grand prix here."
If true, the former Renault team would become the fifth different winning constructor in the opening five races of the extraordinary 2012 season.
"Our biggest opponent for Sunday is not Red Bull," an unnamed McLaren engineer is quoted as saying. "It's Lotus."
And another surprise pacesetter is Sauber. "Over 15 laps we were better than Red Bull," team manager Beat Zehnder enthused.
"If everything goes right, we can be on the podium," he is quoted by the Swiss newspaper Blick.
Agreed McLaren's Jenson Button: "The Lotus, Sauber and Williams look very strong."
But in reality, in F1's new guise of 2012, no one knows what is going to happen on Saturday and Sunday.
"Lord knows what will happen here tomorrow," wrote The Times' Kevin Eason. "Well, perhaps He is the only one who does know what is going on -- F1 hasn't a clue."