Magny-Cours: Renault Driver Development race 1 report

Renault Driver Development squad members Heikki Kovalainen and Jose Maria Lopez finished first and second in the Saturday GP2 race at Magny-Cours. With Fernando Alonso having secured pole position for the French GP earlier in the day it was the ...

Renault Driver Development squad members Heikki Kovalainen and Jose Maria Lopez finished first and second in the Saturday GP2 race at Magny-Cours. With Fernando Alonso having secured pole position for the French GP earlier in the day it was the perfect result for Renault on home ground.

Heikki qualified only fourth, but made a brilliant start to muscle his way into the lead at the first corner. The Arden team planned a late pit stop, and a safety car played into the Finn's hands. He was able to pit and rejoin still in front of all those who had made their compulsory pit stop. When the two cars ahead finally stopped, he regained the lead and held it to the flag. It was Heikki's third win of the season in the longer Saturday race. He has extended his ‘overnight' championship lead to 15 points, and will start the shorter Sunday event from eighth position.

Jose qualified second, but got off the line badly. He made his stop just before the safety car, and was able to move up to second place. Earlier this year he won the Sunday race in Spain, and he also took second in the Saturday event opener at Imola. The DAMS driver has moved up to fifth in the championship, and starts the Sunday race seventh.

Heikki Kovalainen: The initial jump at the start was very good, and I didn't get any wheelspin at all. I passed Rosberg and Jose quite easily, because I had so much more momentum. But then Premat gave me quite a big squeeze. I decided to stay there and he closed the door and we touched a little bit. It bent my steering, so all the way through the race my steering was pointing to the left for some reason. For me it was important to get ahead for the strategy. After a while I got used to the steering, and I think it was all under control. They were close behind, but I don't think they were able to make any moves. I was surprised when Premat and Rosberg didn't pit under the safety car, and even more surprised when I joined the track and I was still right behind them. It was nice to be able to just drive behind them before the stopped. Jose was pushing me, so I was in the middle of the sandwich, looking both ways. When they pitted I pulled away from Lopez, and that was it. On Sunday another good start is the key. If I can make two or three places at the start that would be great, and then I'll really attack the first hairpin.'

Jose Maria Lopez: I'm happy and for sure it's a very good result for the team. We were quicker in qualifying, and I fought for the pole position yesterday. I didn't do a great start, but it was a bit slippery, and Heikki passed me. We had some problems in the race again, but it was still the best car we've had in a race so far. We had the correct strategy, and we pitted two laps before the safety car, because we knew with old tyres we weren't really competitive. I was very good on new tyres when I exited from the pits, but Heikki was still a little bit quicker. It was a good race and we have a good position for tomorrow. For sure it's very difficult to fight for the win, but I hope I can score some more points.'

-renault-

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