No points for Kovalainen despite Spa speed Heikki Kovalainen failed to score any points over the Spa weekend despite leading the first of two dramatic wet races. Unfortunately Heikki has lost the series lead to Nico Rosberg. He now trails the...
No points for Kovalainen despite Spa speed
Heikki Kovalainen failed to score any points over the Spa weekend despite leading the first of two dramatic wet races. Unfortunately Heikki has lost the series lead to Nico Rosberg. He now trails the ART driver by 102 points to 99, with just the Bahrain finale to come later this month.
The Spa rookie started Saturday's race from fourth on the grid, and got up to third at the start. An early safety car incident saw many of the drivers come straight into the pits to make their compulsory stops. However, Heikki and several other drivers stayed out. Dark clouds were threatening and the team intended to use his compulsory stop for a change to wets, which would have given him a clear advantage over those who had already pitted. Although it did begin to rain, it was never heavy enough for the strategy to pay off, and a series of safety car interludes meant that those at the front could not make a break. Heikki fought his way into the lead, and both he and Jose Maria eventually pitted with four laps to go, along with two other drivers who had followed the same strategy. He rejoined in ninth place but despite lapping faster than those ahead he had too big a gap to close. On the last lap Heikki tried to take eighth place - and thus pole for Sunday - from Mathias Lauda. Unfortunately the pair made contact, and Heikki spun to a halt. He was classified 15th.
Heavy rain and a series of accidents caused the Sunday race to be red- flagged after just 10 laps were completed. As insufficient distance had been covered, only half points were awarded. Unfortunately none of them went to Heikki, who was about to break into the top six when the action was curtailed. After a delay due to rain and damage to barriers in an earlier event, the race got underway over an hour late, with the safety car leading the field away from the grid. The lack of a flying start penalised Heikki because he was 15th on the grid, and the field was instantly spread out. Nevertheless he soon worked his way up to ninth place. He looked set to make further progress when a crash at the top of Eau Rouge and another one further along the straight led to a red flag and a race suspension. It was eventually decided not to continue and to declare the results on the lap before the red flag, with Heikki ninth.
Meanwhile it was a frustrating weekend for team mate Nicolas Lapierre. Having qualified a superb third, he stalled on the grid. At Spa the startline is separated from the pits. At any other track the crew could have restarted the car and he cold have rejoined the race from the pits, but he had to retire. That meant he started last on Sunday. He hung back initially to get a clear track and go for fastest lap, and was never able to make any real progress.'
Heikki Kovalainen - Saturday: 'Obviously the strategy wasn't the right one. During the first safety car period we were thinking that maybe it will start to rain a bit more, and a little bit earlier, so we were hoping that we could take the wet tyres and only stop the one time. But it didn't start to rain very hard until the last few laps, so it didn't work. Also I made a little mistake on the last lap with Lauda. I tried to overtake him and we made contact. He squeezed me a little bit, but I probably could have waited a bit, but I was also being pushed from behind. If it had started to rain a little bit earlier, it would have been more difficult for the others.' Sunday: 'We just have to try to forget this weekend and not be too sad about it. Today it was going OK, although it was difficult to see. You just had to take care on the straights and try to attack under braking. I think I would have been able to make a few more places, as the car felt pretty food today. When I arrived at the accident I went to the left side of the track, and I couldn't really see properly. Then I saw Lopez hit somebody and I ran over some bodywork and bits and pieces. It was not a fantastic feeling, and I was lucky to escape. I thought they'd clear the track and restart and we'd have a good race. It's disappointing, but it was the right decision to stop the race.'
Nicolas Lapierre - Saturday: 'I think it was my mistake, but we have to look at the data to see what happened. It's the second time, and that's why it's a bit strange. For sure it's a shame, because it was a really exciting race to watch. We should have been able to restart and catch the queue behind the safety car, but the track configuration is different so we had no chance to restart.' Sunday: 'We were 24th on the first lap and we sort of let them go to try to get a clear lap. We were expected some yellow flags, but nobody went off, and for us it was quite difficult to get back as it was a safety car start. There was a lot of water on the track. Obviously there was this big crash that stopped the race. I thought it could be restarted, but it wasn't. Bahrain will be interesting as it's a special format with two qualifying sessions.'