Kovalainen third at Barcelona Heikki Kovalainen consolidated his GP2 Series lead with a strong third place in Saturday's race at Barcelona, while fellow Renault Driver Development squad member Jose Maria Lopez finished sixth. Heikki Kovalainen...
Kovalainen third at Barcelona
Heikki Kovalainen consolidated his GP2 Series lead with a strong third place in Saturday's race at Barcelona, while fellow Renault Driver Development squad member Jose Maria Lopez finished sixth.
Heikki Kovalainen consolidated his GP2 Series lead with a strong third place in Saturday's race at Barcelona, while fellow Renault Driver Development squad member Jose Maria Lopez finished sixth after running as high as second in the early stages.
The rules were changed for this weekend to include only one compulsory pit stop, during which teams had to change at least two tyres. After a frustrating time in qualifying, Heikki started only 11th in the Arden entry. He made a good start, but nevertheless opted to make his stop as early as lap 3 so that he could drop out of traffic and try to take advantage of a clear track.
The tactic proved successful, although he lost some time trying to pass backmarkers. However, as those at the front made their stops he gradually jumped up the order, eventually making it into a podium position. He has finished in the top three in all three races held so far.
After qualifying his DAMS car third, Jose Maria got into second at the start and had a strong first stint before pitting on lap 23. However after the stop he lost time with a moment at one of the fast corners, from which he was lucky to emerge unscathed. He finished just three seconds behind fifth placed finisher Nelson Piquet Jr.
For Sunday's sprint race the top eight will start in reverse order, which means that Jose Maria will be third and Heikki sixth.
Heikki Kovalainen: "The plan was to do an early pit stop. It was risky, but it was the only way for me not to lose time compared to the leaders, because I was quite confident that I had the pace to follow them in the race. The only worry was how the tyres were going to last, and how I was going to get past the slower cars. They cost me a little bit of time, but it was always going to be the case. At one point when I was stuck I thought the gap wasn't going down, but I knew that it was always there or thereabouts and it was going to be close. The tyres were going away all the time so the last 10-15 laps were a little bit difficult. I knew that we could finish quite high up if it went to plan, and it did pretty much. I'm going to try very hard to get another podium tomorrow -- first of all I have to make up a couple of places at the start."
Jose Maria Lopez: "I made a good start and I made one position. I was pushing hard to close the gap between me and Gianmaria Bruni, but it was difficult. After the pit stop when I tried to push a little bit more to reach him I just went off at one of the quick corners. To be honest I was quite lucky to take the car off the gravel and come back. But I lost quite a lot there. I think it was quite possible to finish top four or top three today. The tyres went off and I had a little bit of a problem with oversteer, so the car was quite difficult to control. It's better than nothing, but today I expected much more. Tomorrow I start in the same position as today, but I hope it doesn't finish in the same way!"