Hethel-backed Lotus endured a rare 2012 off-day at Monaco – the team’s 500th Formula One outing.

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After a promising qualifying, Romain Grosjean’s clash with Michael Schumacher ended his afternoon early, while Kimi Räikkönen never got up with the leaders on the notoriously tight track and the Finn had to settle for ninth.

It was a relatively poor show for the Enstone outfit, who had taken two-car finishes from fourth or higher at both Bahrain and Barcelona in the last two rounds.

Team principal Eric Boullier said: “We arrived in Monaco after two consecutive podiums and did not really know what to expect at such a unique circuit.

“Before qualifying it was obvious that the E20 was going to be competitive, but things did not go as planned. Our positions on the grid did not reflect our true pace and that put us on the back foot for the rest of the weekend.

“Unfortunately Romain’s race ended prematurely after contact with Michael, and like the stewards I think it was a racing incident.

“With Kimi, we knew that fighting for a podium was going to be more than difficult. It then became obvious that we were struggling with our tyres when the temperature fell. The grip was just not there and we could only defend our position.

“In the end, the two points we’ve scored are disappointing but because the field is so tight we have not lost too much ground on our opponents.”

Lotus sit joint third in the constructors’ championship alongside Ferrari after six rounds, with the Canadian Grand Prix next up on June 10.

Boullier added: “We have the same number of points as Ferrari, while Kimi is 25 points away from Fernando Alonso who’s leading the drivers’ classification. Anything can still happen and the championship is wide open.

“We’re now looking forward to Montreal, the first low downforce track of the season where the E20 should be strong.”

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