Kovalainen says Hamilton's move 'fair'

Heikki Kovalainen believes his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton's move on Kimi Raikkonen at the beginning of the Japanese Grand Prix was fair, despite the world championship leader receiving a drive-through penalty for impeding the Ferrari driver on the exit of Turn 1

Hamilton made a poor start from pole position and lost ground to front-row man Raikkonen, but braked late on the inside of the first corner in an attempt to take the lead from the Finn.

The McLaren ran wide on the exit, with Raikkonen forced off-track to the outside of him, which allowed Robert Kubica and Fernando Alonso to pass both of them, as well as Kovalainen.

"Obviously Kimi [Raikkonen] got a good start and I think my start was very good as well, Lewis [Hamilton]'s wasn't quite as good," Kovalainen told UK broadcaster ITV, having retired early from the race at Fuji Speedway. "Kimi initially jumped Lewis and then I think Lewis was trying to fight back. They both went a bit deep and I also went a bit deep.

"I don't know... I thought it was just a normal first corner."

Asked if he thought Hamilton's manouvre had been clean, Kovalainen replied: "I think so. I have to see it again afterwards.

"I wasn't just focussing on what they were doing I was also seeing who was behind me and who was alongside me," Kovalainen insisted. "I was just trying to stay away from any trouble. I am not the right person to make any calls, I am just a driver, not a judge."

Kovalainen suffered what appeared to be the first engine-related retirement of his Formula One career on lap 17 of the race - ironically the same lap that Hamilton served his penalty.

"I think it was an engine failure," said Kovalainen. "I don't know what was leading into it because the reliability has been fantastic so far this year and even last year.

"Some times these things happen. I just saw some pieces of metal flying from the exhaust and that is never a good sign."

Previous article DC: Contact caused suspension failure
Next article Alonso takes second win in a row at Fuji