Renault's Heikki Kovalainen talks about the season so far Q: Heikki, you made your F1 debut in Australia just over a month ago. What have the first three races been like for you? Heikki Kovalainen, Renault F1 Team. Photo by ...
Renault's Heikki Kovalainen talks about the season so far
Q: Heikki, you made your F1 debut in Australia just over a month ago. What have the first three races been like for you?
Heikki Kovalainen: The start of the season has been a little bit tough for us, to be honest. The car clearly isn't performing how the team had hoped, and personally, my first race was a real disappointment. It certainly wasn't the kind of debut I had dreamed about. So that's the negative side of things, but I'm not the kind of person to focus on the downside. Since Melbourne, I have worked really hard, I have been on the same pace as my team-mate Giancarlo, and I think I have made good progress. I feel like the first three races have given me a good basis to improve from in the next months.
Q: Talk us through those first three races -- disappointment in Melbourne, first points in Malaysia, then a tough afternoon in Bahrain...
HK: Well, there have been some highs and lows I suppose, but overall I am happy that I am making progress. I don't want to think about Australia -- nothing went right for me, and I just put it behind me as fast as possible. Malaysia was good -- my first point in probably the toughest race of the year, and qualifying ahead of Fisico. And then in Bahrain, I only finished ninth, but it was a battling race.
The first stint was tough because of the heavy fuel load, but I had to fight wheel to wheel with some guys, especially Rosberg -- it was like being back in GP2! And I think I showed that I can be aggressive, that I am not an easy guy to pass on track, and that I can keep on pushing all the way through the race. So there are always positives to take from every experience, and they are what I am focusing on.
Q: During the 2006 season, you were third driver for the world champions. Has the step up to race driver been as you imagined?
HK: Yes, I arrived knowing what to expect, and I haven't had any big surprises. I knew how a Grand Prix weekend goes and I understood the qualifying format. The first three races as a race driver have been a really positive learning experience, and I have enjoyed them. Of course, some moments were better than others, but I have taken something from all of them, good and bad!
Q: We know that the car is not performing to the team's usual level, and that it can be tricky to drive. Does that change how you are working?
HK: I think it means we have to work even harder than before, in even more detail. There is lots of analysis going on, and I am speaking to the team a lot to give them as much feedback as possible concerning the handling, and trying to improve the situation. I have been in constant contact with my engineer, Adam (Carter), and other people in the team during the past few weeks, to talk about testing and about what we can do to make the car more competitive. I am enjoying working hard with the team. We know that every detail matters, and can help us improve.
Q: Do you think the team can bounce back?
HK: Yes, I am confident of it. The team has won two world titles in two years, they are the best. I haven't got any doubts at all that we can bounce back, and show people the real strength and calibre of this team.
Q: And what will be your role in that?
HK: From my side, I will try to help the team as much as possible. I am always trying to improve my performance, and to attack to the maximum without making mistakes. I am optimistic, and I am convinced we can get back to the front. That's when we will be able to feel really proud of ourselves, and what we have achieved!