Another win for Heikki in Monza Heikki Kovalainen has retained his GP2 series lead over rival Nico Rosberg following a weekend of mixed fortunes in Monza that included a memorable victory on Saturday. Heikki put the Arden car on pole, gaining...
Another win for Heikki in Monza
Heikki Kovalainen has retained his GP2 series lead over rival Nico Rosberg following a weekend of mixed fortunes in Monza that included a memorable victory on Saturday.
Heikki put the Arden car on pole, gaining two extra points even before the start. When the race got underway things were a bit close during the dash to the first corner, but Heikki just managed to fend off Rosberg and emerge in front. A brief safety car interlude following a crash on the grid gave him some breathing space, but at the restart Rosberg again got a run at him into the first chicane. For a second time Heikki hustled his car through the corner in front, while on the exit of the corner Nico was delayed after tangling with his team mate Premat. Rosberg recovered to second and pitted on lap 8, while Heikki responded by pitting a lap later. After a good stop by the Arden crew he retained his lead and thereafter held off Rosberg to the flag, despite a distraction caused by the oil pressure warning light coming on.
Heikki went on to finish fifth in Sunday's event, after losing ground running wide during the race. There was confusion at the start after a problem with the lights, and Heikki was one of several drivers who remained on the grid while the bulk of the field set off. After a delay the race started behind a safety car, with everyone in their original positions. Heikki had moved up from eighth to sixth when he ran wide at Parabolica on lap 7, and dropped back to ninth. From there he drove a great race to recover to fifth place, and he was right on the tail of the fourth-placed car at the flag. However, Rosberg finished second and was thus able to narrow the gap.
Nicolas Lapierre took a great fourth place on Saturday, and even reached the lead before his pit stop. He had a frustrating time on Sunday, however. He started well, but an early trip across the gravel cost him momentum. He was running sixth when he went off the road at Parabolica on lap 9, badly damaging the car.
Action resumes at Spa next weekend. Nicolas knows the track from F3, but Heikki has not raced at the Belgian circuit before. However he has at least had the opportunity to sample the Eau Rouge section at the wheel of a Renault F1 car in recent testing.
Heikki Kovalainen: 'My start wasn't very good, but I was committed to arrive first at the first corner regardless of what the others were doing. I braked late and missed the first apex, but I didn't want to cut the chicane and get a penalty, so I went back on the track. I was on the inside so I had the right of way, so Nico had to give way. Track position is obviously everything, so you want to stay ahead, no matter what! After the safety car I got a good restart, but he just towed me. He got alongside, and again I missed the braking and missed the apex a little bit, but I was on the inside for the next one, so it worked out OK again. We had probably the quickest pit stop we've had this year, and I had a 6.5 seconds lead when I came out, but then he started to catch me. Later the oil pressure warning light began flickering, but on the last lap after braking into the first corner it stayed on all the way round. I didn't feel any loss of power or anything, but it's never a good sign when you start to see a red light on the dash. I was just thinking don't give up now! I saw that Nico could get close but he couldn't pass me, and I just concentrated on not making a mistake.' Sunday: 'At the start I knew the other people had made a mess, so I just stopped the engine and said I'm not going anywhere! Once we got going it was going OK, but then I made a mistake at the last corner, outbraking myself and running wide. After that I managed to get up to sixth, and then I passed Adam Carroll on the straight for fifth. I guess you can't win every time. Spa should be OK. I'm looking forward to it, and I think we are more competitive with the low downforce spec.'
Nicolas Lapierre - Saturday: 'The start was alright, but I lost some time when Premat went out. There was a lot of smoke on the right side of the track so I said I'm going to go on the left side, but when I got there he came to the middle of the track, so I went into the gravel to avoid a crash. Afterwards there was a bit of a fight with Pantano, and he got a drive through penalty. Then we were fourth, and nobody was in front and nobody was behind, so it was a really calm race in the end. It's good to be back in the points. Before I pitted it was nice to see P1 on the board for the first time since F3!' Sunday: 'The beginning of the race was quite good, but I had some trouble with the brakes and I went through the gravel at the second chicane, which didn't help us. The car was OK and I was coming back when I had some oversteer at the end of Parabolica, and I went on the grass and into the wall. It happened quite quickly. It's just a race to forget, so I'm looking forward to Spa. I'm excited to go there because it's such a nice track, and I think we should be alright because it's almost the same configuration as here, with low downforce.'