Monte Carlo: Renault race report

Pit stop drama costs Heikki Monaco victory Renault Driver Development squad member Heikki Kovalainen lost a certain victory in the Monaco GP2 race after a front wheel stuck at a pit stop, dropping him down the order. Renault Driver Development...

Pit stop drama costs Heikki Monaco victory

Renault Driver Development squad member Heikki Kovalainen lost a certain victory in the Monaco GP2 race after a front wheel stuck at a pit stop, dropping him down the order.

Renault Driver Development squad member Heikki Kovalainen lost a certain victory in the Monaco GP2 race after a front wheel stuck at a pit stop, dropping him down the order. The Finn put in a great recovery drive to salvage fifth place, and he still leads the championship.

The Finn did a brilliant job to put his Arden entry on pole, and after making a perfect start led convincingly in the early stages of the race. However when he made his compulsory pit stop the front left wheel nut jammed on. Teams only have to change two tyres at the stop, so after struggling with the air gun the crew switched to the other side of the car and changed the front right instead, sending Heikki out with the original front left tyre.

By then the damage had been done and he had lost almost a minute. But by pushing as hard as he could and taking advantage of retirements ahead Heikki moved up to fifth. Having already collected the bonus for pole he earned more points by taking fastest lap. He leads Gianmaria Bruni by two points in the drivers' championship.

Fellow RDD man Jose Maria Lopez suffered with gearbox problems all weekend with his DAMS car. He ran only a few laps in free practice on Friday, and then took over the car of his team mate right at the end of qualifying.

He still didn't have time to complete a flying lap, and was thus forced to start at the back. He made an early pit stop in an attempt to get out of traffic and find a clear track, but several of the cars he was battling with did the same and thus the strategy didn't work. He was forced to retire just after the chicane when gearbox problems struck again on lap 11.

Both drivers are hoping for better fortunes in the next race at the Nurburgring in one weeks' time.

Heikki Kovalainen: "The start was OK and I pulled away quite easily at the beginning. There were a few cars I was trying to get past, and I lost quite a bit of time when I was lapping them. That allowed the others to catch me up, but then I pulled away again. Then it all went wrong in the pit stop! It's really frustrating to see a Monaco victory going away. I did what I would have done without the problem -- I went out there and put my foot down again and tried to push really hard. I touched the wall a couple of times at the exit of Turn One with the front tyre, but the car was very well balanced all the way through. I got eight points, which is better than nothing, and hopefully it hasn't done too much damage for the championship. But this was one I really wanted to win and was really concentrating on. But what can we do? Next time we just have to try again.'

Jose Maria Lopez: "After three or four laps of the free practice I broke the gearbox, so that put me at the back. I stopped early but my stop was at the same time as the others, so I couldn't overtake anybody. And then we had the same gearbox problem. I'm very, very disappointed because I've been looking forward to Monaco and working a lot for here. In the two years that I've raced here it always was very good, so I was aiming for a podium or at least a top five finish. It's disappointing because I'm losing touch for the championship. I haven't done a lot of laps this weekend, and I hope the next one at the Nurburgring is going to be better!'

-renaultf1-

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