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F1 NEWS 

Kovalainen targets 'best' GP for Lotus

Heikki Kovalainen, LotusLotus could be set for its best-ever qualifying and race performance in this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, according to driver Heikki Kovalainen.

The Finn, who matched the team's qualifying record with 15th on the grid in Spain last week, is hopeful that the unique track will allow Lotus to fight in the midfield.

"My target is to do the best race and qualifying of the year," Kovalainen told AUTOSPORT. "Monaco is always a place where you can do better or worse than expected because it's such a unique place.

"I see it as an opportunity for us and I feel comfortable here. We could genuinely be more competitive, although we will have to wait and see in practice."

Kovalainen added that he is confident that the Lotus will be well-suited to the circuit and is hopeful of being able to outqualify team-mate Jarno Trulli, a Monaco specialist, for the second year in a row.

He is also unconcerned that Lotus's power steering system, which is due to be replaced with a new unit in Canada in two weeks, will make life harder around the streets.

"I have good confidence in the balance of our car all the way through the year," said Kovalainen. "Qualifying has been stronger this year than last year, which was one of the main targets, to be stronger against Jarno in qualifying and I have worked on that over the winter.

"Braking areas generally have been where Jarno has sometimes found more than me so I've had to improve that. I'm quite comfortable now to pus the car to the limit under braking and that will help here. In the last sector at Barcelona, we were relatively competitive.

"I have got to used to the power steering now. It is not perfect, but it will not have any effect on performance here and it is consistent."

Team-mate Jarno Trulli is also hopeful that the team might be able to get a good result, although believes that a first points finish could be beyond the team.

He added that the team's power steering could make it hard for him in qualifying in particular.

"Making the top 10 will be hard," said Trulli. "But we hope that we can get an advantage from this strange circuit. We are optimistic, but realistic about the fact that it's difficult to predict how good the car will be.

"As you have seen I'm struggling at the moment with the car. My strength is not any more in qualifying because I'm racing much better than I'm qualifying.

"I'm not very confident with the car. I have to find out how confident I will be on this track with the power steering we have tomorrow."

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