Hockenheim: Renault race one report

Kovalainen takes fifth in first GP2 race at Hockenheim Heikki Kovalainen still leads the GP2 points after the Saturday race at Hockenheim. Heikki Kovalainen still leads the GP2 points after the Saturday race at Hockenheim. He finished the ...

Kovalainen takes fifth in first GP2 race at Hockenheim

Heikki Kovalainen still leads the GP2 points after the Saturday race at Hockenheim.

Heikki Kovalainen still leads the GP2 points after the Saturday race at Hockenheim. He finished the weekend's first event in fifth place, picking up four useful points, although his lead over main title rival Nico Rosberg has been reduced.

The Renault Driver Development squad member started ninth after a difficult qualifying session. He made a good start, but inevitably found himself stuck in traffic straight away. He followed the Arden team's pre-planned strategy and made his compulsory pit stop as soon as possible. However, he then lost precious seconds when the crew had a problem with the left front wheel.

Heikki initially dropped to 14th, but as those ahead made their stops, he gradually moved up the order. He was into sixth by lap 14, before eventually moving up to fifth. He was too far behind those ahead to make any further progress, but nevertheless was still only 10 seconds off second place at the flag. He maintained his record of finishing every Saturday race in the points, and will start the shorter Sunday from fourth place on the reversed grid.

Meanwhile it was a difficult day for fellow RDD man Jose Maria Lopez. After struggling with the car in qualifying Lopez started the DAMS entry in 20th. He made some ground on the first lap, only to lose it when he was edged into a spin. He endured a couple more moments as he fought with a difficult balance on the way to an eventual 14th place. The team will make major set-up changes overnight, and gamble that they have gone the right way.

Heikki Kovalainen: 'That was a tough one! I gave as much as I could, but it didn't work out today. The start was OK, and I got up to about sixth or seventh. We were planning to stop early if I was stuck behind other cars, and I was caught behind Jani straight away. But the pit stop wasn't fantastic -- they had a problem with the left front wheel -- and I lost a place to Pantano. I spent the next 10 or 12 laps behind him and Jani. As soon as I got past Pantano I was able to pick up the pace, but it wasn't really enough to catch up. I was struggling a bit with the rear grip, and also my brakes were fading towards the end, so I had to pump the brake pedal all the time. And then one time I locked the rear tyres, which is normally a sign of brake problems. So I backed off from then. Four points is not a disaster, but it's the wrong direction at the moment. The worrying thing is we were quite a long way behind in qualifying, but we'll work together and try and improve. On Sunday I'm going to fight until the end. All we can do is do our best!'

Jose Maria Lopez: 'It was probably the worst race in my career! I had a good start and at the hairpin I managed to pass many cars, but later Piccione pushed me a little bit onto the grass, and I just spun. There was a lot of tyre smoke and I was lucky not to be hit. After that the car was really nervous in the braking points. We're changing the car quite a lot between races to see if we can be consistently competitive. It's difficult to drive a different car every race, because you can't really get used to it, so I'm quite disappointed. I know the team is pushing very hard and they want to improve. But today it was so difficult to drive the car, and when I tried to do something, I spun, so it was quite embarrassing for me. Tomorrow we're going to take the race as a test, we're going to change the complete car again, so we'll see. DAMS has always been one of the best teams, so I don't see why we can't reach the top again.'

-renaultf1-

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About this article
Series FIA F2
Drivers Heikki Kovalainen , Jose Maria Lopez
Teams DAMS