Kovalainen retains GP2 lead after Sunday race win in Turkey Heikki Kovalainen retained the lead of the GP2 series after a weekend of mixed fortunes in Turkey. After a frustrating race on Saturday he won the wet Sunday event in style after a...
Kovalainen retains GP2 lead after Sunday race win in Turkey
Heikki Kovalainen retained the lead of the GP2 series after a weekend of mixed fortunes in Turkey. After a frustrating race on Saturday he won the wet Sunday event in style after a great strategic decision by the Arden team.
Neither driver made the points in the Saturday race at the new Istanbul circuit after a frustrating afternoon for both men. Heikki had a difficult qualifying session, and was 12th at the end of the first lap. He joined the dash into the pits when the safety car came out and gained a couple of places during the stops, but soon found himself struggling with the engine. He lost ground while he tried to solve the problem, but was able to recover 10th by the end.
Nicolas Lapierre followed Heikki into the pits under the safety car, and the team did a great job to get him out only two positions behind after servicing both cars one after the other. Thereafter he was involved in some great scraps in the middle of the field until lap 17, when he got into a tangle with Clivio Piccione at the final corner, and was then punted into a spin by Gianmaria Bruni. He was not able to continue.
On Sunday rain swept across the new circuit while the GP2 cars were waiting on the grid, so the start was delayed by 15 minutes to allow for an improvement in conditions. Heikki made a good start and briefly got up to second, but he slipped back to sixth as he struggled for grip on the greasy track. As the track dried grooved tyres became an option, and on lap 12 Heikki became the first driver to gamble on a change.
Eventually most of the field came into the pits, and Heikki jumped up to third. The BCN team decided to keep its drivers Yoshimoto and Viso out on wet tyres, but as they got slower, Heikki caught them. He took the lead on lap 20. With rival Nico Rosberg taking third Heikki still has the seven point advantage that he had at the start of the weekend.
Meanwhile it was a frustrating race for Nicolas. Radio communication problems meant that he pitted for dry tyres two laps later than intended, and he lost a lot of valuable time. He eventually finished 13th.
Heikki Kovalainen - Saturday: 'After the pit stop the car started misfiring every time I put full throttle, and after the safety car we started losing ground straight away. I tried to hang in there and carry on but it was getting worse and worse. I couldn't even get top gear on the straight. Apart from that today the car was very, very good, probably the best race car I've had this year. In the corners the car was excellent, and I was absolutely on the limit.' Sunday: 'I made a good start but I could see that the tyres didn't grip like they should do. I had to keep pushing to get some temperature into them, but it just never worked. If I pushed hard I locked up the wheels and went straight, and I felt it was better not to make any mistakes and lose as little as possible, and maybe try to win it back with the slicks. I made a little mistake into Turn 7, and Rosberg passed me, but I didn't give up. It was worth taking a risk to come in early for dry tyres. I was ready for them to call me in, but if they hadn't called me on the next lap I would have come in anyway. I realised straight away it was the right decision. There were a couple of corners where you had to take care, but it was drying out. When I passed the leaders I thought I was lapping them! I didn't see any blue flags, so I thought, what's going on? I thought one lap I saw 'P1' on the board, and then it was plus five seconds or something the next time round. I've only gained two points on Rosberg, but it's better than losing two. I've been to Monza with the World Series car two years ago, so it should be OK.'
Nicolas Lapierre - Saturday: 'It was a good beginning of the race, I had a good start, and the strategy was perfect when I queued behind Heikki at the pit stop. We just lost one position. I thought we would be in the points, which was the goal today. I tried a move on Piccione. He closed the door, and Bruni just pushed me. I thought it was going to be OK, but he pushed me a second time, and it was too much, and the car spun. The suspension was broken, and so was the wheel he hit.' Sunday: 'The beginning of the race was great when the track was completely wet, but when it dried I had a lot of oversteer, and I went off the track and lost a lot of time. Then we had some trouble with the radio. I came in two laps too late, and I lost a lot of time. In the dry the car was quite OK. I was hoping to get the points for fastest lap, but on the last lap I came up behind people still on wet tyres, so I couldn't manage a clear lap. Anyway, it's a race to forget completely! I've never raced at Monza, but I don't think it's a problem to learn the track. I'm going to play a lot on the Playstation and look at the data from the previous year.'