HEIKKI KOVALAINEN MP4-24-03 Started: 15th Finished: 6th Fastest lap: 1m48.348s (13th) Pitstops: one (Op-Pr) 2009 points: 17 (10th) A textbook one-stopper for Heikki, who started from 15th position ...
Fastest lap: 1m48.348s (13th)
Pitstops: one (Op-Pr)
2009 points: 17 (10th)
A textbook one-stopper for Heikki, who started from 15th position and drove faultlessly to finish sixth. He began the race on the Option tyre, made a strong start to slot into 10th. As the earlier-stopping cars pitted ahead of him, Heikki moved as high as fourth before making his sole stop of the race on lap 26.
After a switch to Primes, he rejoined 10th and enjoyed a close battle with Rubens Barrichello as he once again climbed up the order to finish sixth.
"A good race for me," said Heikki afterwards. "Even though our overall pace here hasn't been as good as in the two previous races, our strategy worked out perfectly and I was able to overtake a lot of the guys stopping before me.
"I want to say a big thank you to all the guys in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart for all their efforts. Today's sixth place was the result of a strong, reliable car, a great strategy, a fantastic engine and a first-rate KERS -- all of which helped me to make up nine places on my grid position today.
"We still have some work to do to be fully competitive on medium-downforce tracks, but Monza should be a different story as it's a very low-downforce circuit and we are traditionally quite good there.
"Finally, I'm really happy for Kimi: he drove a great race and I knew he would be a tough guy to beat around this place."
Finished: Ret (0 laps, accident)
Fastest lap: -
2009 points: 27 (7th)
Starting from 12th, Lewis's car bogged down at the start and the anti-stall kicked in, delaying his momentum down to the first corner. Into La Source, he was pincered by two cars, snapping off part of his wing following contact with another car. Into the braking zone for Les Combes, Lewis slowed to avoid an entanglement ahead of him and was heavily broadsided by Jaime Alguersari, pitching him into the gravel and immediately out of the race.
"Some days, when things go bad they go bad -- and this was just one of those days," admitted Lewis. "I got a poor start, the anti-stall kicked in and I tried to recover, but got sandwiched at the first corner and lost a bit of my front wing. When Romain Grosjean spun Jenson around at Turn Five, everyone was trying to avoid them, so I slowed down to try and avoid the damage and got taken out by one of the drivers behind me, who was trying to avoid the accident too. A disappointing day, but we'll come back and try to win this race next year."
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
"Heikki drove very strongly from 15th on the grid to sixth at the finish, optimising a one-stop strategy that necessitated comparatively heavy fuel loads, and nursing his tyres judiciously all afternoon. Lewis was tapped by another car at La Source, and was then slammed into the wall at Les Combes by yet another. But that's racing.
"On behalf of all at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, I'd like to offer congratulations to Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari on the occasion of their first win of the season, and also to Giancarlo Fisichella and Force India on a sensational second place -- a refreshing result that is very healthy for Formula 1 in that it demonstrates that the smaller teams are capable of turning the tables on the bigger teams from time to time.
"Returning to the subject of our team, we'd hoped to be leaving Spa with more than three world championship points -- but the reality is that, although our car has been much improved recently, it still isn't as fast as the quickest cars. But we'll analyse that, and we'll work on it, and we'll hope to do better at Monza in two weeks' time."
Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Both Lewis and Heikki lost places at the start, Lewis was hit in the first corner and then taken out in the third one in Les Combes. So Heikki's sixth place is the best we could get today and this is not too bad as Heikki started from 15th.
"Congratulations to Kimi -- it must be a big relief for him having achieved his first win for 25 races and compliments to Ferrari for their first victory this season. Well done to Giancarlo for second place and to McLaren-Mercedes' customer team Force India, who showed today, from the start to the finish, that they were a real match for the winner."