Renault test driver Heikki Kovalainen talks about the team's preparations ahead of the first rendez-vous of the 2006 season. Heikki Kovalainen. Photo by xpb.cc. Q: Heikki, you completed the winter testing programme this week in ...
Renault test driver Heikki Kovalainen talks about the team's preparations ahead of the first rendez-vous of the 2006 season.
Q: Heikki, you completed the winter testing programme this week in Valencia. What are your feelings about this winter campaign?
Heikki Kovalainen: Everything went very well. I felt good in the car straight away. The R26 has been very reliable, easy to drive and reacted well to the different set up changes we had to test. We made good progress on the package whose foundations were very strong even before the first tests on track last January.
I think we should be very satisfied with our performances this winter. It is now time for us to compare ourselves in race conditions to our competitors, who have also done a lot of running.
Q: Regarding what happened during the winter, how do you imagine the race of Bahrain next week?
HK: The fight will be tight, that's sure. I think both Renault cars are very strong. Our engine is reliable and Michelin tyres performed well this winter, so I think we have a real chance for the first race. I believe we all will be very disappointed if we are not fighting for the win in Bahrain because the R26/RS26 package is ready!
Q: And you, how are you preparing for the first GP as it will be you first race of the season as official third driver of the Renault F1 Team?
HK: I just try to continue my fitness training to keep myself in good shape because I have to be able to drive the car if needed. But I mainly want to continue learning from the team and see how the race team works. It will be hard to see the other drivers on the track but it is part of my job and I accept it.
Q: What will be your programme for the next few weeks?
HK: I will be pretty busy, I have to say. I will go to Bahrain and Malaysia then I will come back to Europe to take part in testing in Paul Ricard. Before going to Australia for the third GP, I will travel via Japan for a promotional event with our sponsor Mild Seven and then from Melbourne, I will go back to Paul Ricard to continue our development programme. Do you follow?!