Renault's Heikki Kovalainen talks about his expectations for 2007 Q: What is your feeling after the first tests? Heikki Kovalainen: The feeling is very positive after my first test. Obviously we don't know how is our competition yet but the ...
Renault's Heikki Kovalainen talks about his expectations for 2007
Q: What is your feeling after the first tests?
Heikki Kovalainen: The feeling is very positive after my first test. Obviously we don't know how is our competition yet but the first time is very positive and that's always a nice feeling.
I think the new car is a step forward from last year's car, there's more grip, stability feels better, the engine feels good. The whole package feels like a step forward but I'm sure other people are improving as well and we must wait and see where we really are.
I believe the other teams as well had problems and they found the tyres very different. I think we'll be able to catch up and we are a good enough team to make sure that the balance is good. The main thing about the tyres is that they are less quick and you have to drive slower.
Everything is possible but at the moment it's difficult to say what will happen and certainly my focus is not at the end of the year yet. It's my first race.
Q: Flavio (Briatore) said you can win...
HK: I believe I can win. If not this year then next year.
Q: But he said you can win this year...
HK: So I must win! Of course, everybody is in Formula 1 to win, our team wants to win and everybody is very motivated to do that. But my focus is not on that now, as I said many times before. My focus is trying to finish my first race and score some points. You have to start somewhere.
If the expectations are too big and everything goes wrong, it's really disappointing. As long as we do the maximum before the season, we prepare in the best way to Melbourne, we don't have many problems. I'm sure we can do good results.
Q: How many World Championships do you want to win?
HK: Eight would be nice. One more than Michael. I don't know. Everybody wants to win a championship, but you have to keep your focus on reality rather than dreaming big and then the good things will happen.
Q: How will your approach with Fisichella be?
HK: I will always try to beat every driver that I race but with Fisichella we work as a team and we won't do anything stupid. We'll always try to do the best for the team. Of course he's very quick and experienced and I need to do the maximum to stay with him and at the moment that's not something that I think about. I will try to fight with all the drivers equal.
Q: Giancarlo just said that you don't have anything to learn from him...
HK: I can still improve and I'm not on the top of my game yet. Of course at the end of the year if you'll ask me the same question I will say 'I'm better now than I was in January'. I believe I have a good preparation, we can do the maximum and I certainly don't need any help from anyone.
Q: Was it frustrating to stay out of races last year?
HK: A little bit, but since the beginning of the year I already knew it was going to be difficult. I didn't let it bother me too much. I did my maximum at the tests, trying to improve the car and to do quick and consistent times. That was my approach.
Q: Who will be next year's surprise?
HK: It's very difficult to say. I think we all, including me, try to surprise and to do everything we can to be successful straightaway. It's difficult to compare, it depends on many things, first of all who will have a good car.
Q: Which do you think is the secret to win?
HK: I think the secret is to go flat out in the first, the second and the third stints. You must never slow down and even at the tests you really need to maximise everything and to make sure you prepare well. The competition is so high that you can't afford to give anything to the others. If you slow down for a second, they will pass you. I will prepare to do my best.
HK: I think it depends on who's got the quickest car. They both are very good drivers, very competitive, both teams are good, they won races before and I won't make any predictions. They will both be very strong.
Q: How do you see the McLaren line-up?
HK: I think they'll work very well. Fernando is a nice guy and a very quick one, Lewis did a good job last year and deserved his place. Of course, Lewis hasn't done so much in Formula One and Fernando has an advantage because of that, but for sure they make a very good team.
Q: Do you know when Fernando was asked who will be the surprise of 2007 he said you and not Hamilton?
HK: Funny to hear that! Of course Fernando probably knows my driving a little bit more than Hamilton's one. It's good to hear he thinks like that. I hope I can do a positive surprise, but only time will tell.
Q: Do you feel pressure replacing Fernando?
HK: There's always pressure in Formula One, in my opinion. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do good results. I'm not happy if I finish at the back and if I don't feel that I've done the maximum before and throughout the race. That's where the pressure comes. I don't think there is any extra pressure because I replace Fernando. It certainly never affect my driving.
Q: (Nick) Heidfeld said you chose the best moment to come into F1 because next year there will be more Friday practice, without engine limitation and so on. Do you agree with him?
HK: I didn't really choose it, it happened to go that way. But last year, for example, for a rookie driver it was difficult because engines were limited and everybody was trying to save engines and tyres on Friday. Sometimes you saw Nico doing five laps on Friday and certainly if I do three hours on Friday I should be in a better shape. But again it's the same for everybody.
Q: Compared to other Finnish drivers, you speak much more. Why?
HK: I don't know. I haven't won a race yet! Maybe when I win I'll change. I guess I'm a different personality, but at the end of the day in Formula One what matters is the laptime and I hope that my times will be somewhere near the top always.