Kovalainen wins from pole in Monza Heikki Kovalainen consolidated his GP2 championship lead with a well-judged win at Monza, despite severe pressure from title rival Nico Rosberg in the latter stages of the race. The Renault Driver Development...
Kovalainen wins from pole in Monza
Heikki Kovalainen consolidated his GP2 championship lead with a well-judged win at Monza, despite severe pressure from title rival Nico Rosberg in the latter stages of the race.
The Renault Driver Development squad member put his Arden entry on pole, thus 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.
Rosberg recovered to second and pitted on lap 8, while Heikki responded by pitting a lap later. After a good stop 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 now will start the Sunday race from eighth place.
Meanwhile it was a frustrating day for Heikki's RDD colleague Jose Maria Lopez. After qualifying fifth he had a brush with Scott Speed on the rush to the first corner, and having survived that began to suffer from a suspected clutch problem behind the safety car. After a stop to investigate the DAMS team withdrew his car.
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 second 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. Tomorrow the only strategy is to try to overtake as many people as possible...'
Jose Maria Lopez: 'It's a shame because I did a really good start again. I think it was possible to get up to second or third, but Speed pushed me out under braking. His front wheel touched my sidepod, and my car moved and I took a little bit of grass, so I had to brake earlier. It was still looking very good, but I started to feel something wrong in the rear. I thought it was the clutch, and it was getting worse and worse behind the safety car, so I had to stop to check. Apparently there was nothing they could do. Tomorrow I want to have fun, enjoy it, and see what happens.'