Kovalainen extends GP2 lead with brilliant Istanbul victory Heikki Kovalainen scored a superb win in Sunday's GP2 race in Istanbul after in an action-packed race that started in wet conditions. Heikki Kovalainen scored a superb win in Sunday's...
Kovalainen extends GP2 lead with brilliant Istanbul victory
Heikki Kovalainen scored a superb win in Sunday's GP2 race in Istanbul after in an action-packed race that started in wet conditions.
Heikki Kovalainen scored a superb win in Sunday's GP2 race in Istanbul after in an action-packed race that started in wet conditions. The Renault Driver Development squad member was the first competitor to switch back to dry tyres, and that was the key to a success that enabled him to extend his championship lead.
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. The track was still very damp when the field set off.
Heikki made a good start and briefly got up to second with the Arden entry, 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. It proved to be an inspired decision as he immediately began lapping quicker than the opposition.
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, although at first didn't realise that he had done so. With rival Nico Rosberg taking third Heikki has extended his series lead to seven points. The next round is at Monza on a fortnight's time.
Meanwhile after his sixth place on Saturday Jose Maria Lopez was third on the grid in the DAMS car, but that became second after second placed Adam Carroll stalled at the start of the formation lap. Jose took advantage to blast into the lead at the first corner, but as the first man to test the conditions he slithered off the road at Turn 3, and dropped to sixth. He fought back to third by lap 3 as the slippery track produced hectic action, but then slipped back to fifth. He lost out during the stampede into the pits for dry tyres, and eventually finished just outside the points in seventh.
Heikki Kovalainen: "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, but if they hadn't called me 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 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.'
Jose Maria Lopez: "I did everything I could, but sometimes in these conditions it's a lottery. We changed for a rain set-up, and I made a good start. I got in front but I didn't know exactly how the track was. I arrived in the third corner and I went a little bit wide, and I dropped back a bit. The car wasn't too bad, but when I exited from the pits my first two laps were really slow, I couldn't really drive the car with the dry tyres. In the end it started to get a little bit better. It's quite disappointing when you feel you've done everything well and you can't take any points. I know Monza very well, and I hope it will be better.'