Q & A with Heikki Kovalainen

Q. There were some comments from Martin Whitmarsh yesterday that, by your own estimation, you are not living up to expectations and that they want to see you do better. Is that how you see it?

Q & A with Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen: Yes. If Lewis goes and wins the race, I should be finishing a bit ahead of him or at least close to him! I felt that in Hungary, for example, the car's performance was for the first time this year really good but I couldn't get it going like I wanted. I've analysed very much with the whole team and I've asked many people in the team to get involved in why I didn't have the same performance as Lewis.

Martin is correct when he says that I was the one who was disappointed about the result. I'm sure the team was as well, but I was the first one to say that was not right. I think we've understood quite a lot of problems that I had. I lost a lot of performance with my tyres and I think we understand the reasons. Hopefully this weekend we will see a step forward and we can repeat what Lewis did in Hungary.

Q. Martin suggested that your McLaren future is still up in the air. Does that put more pressure on you to deliver your best to ensure you are still here next year?

HK: No. Obviously I see that at the moment it's important to get good results for myself and for the team but I don't get any extra pressure from what Martin has said. A driver who wants to win and be successful always puts a lot of pressure on himself, and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I want to do well, I want to do better than fifth in races and that's what I'm focusing on at the moment.

I'm not concerned about rumours and speculation. Obviously there are drivers available so it's normal to have speculation.

Q. Martin mentioned that he had spoken to you yesterday about your performance - what was the nature of that conversation?

HK: It was actually co-incidence that I saw him because I was coming back from a coffee break. I was running in the simulator yesterday and he happened to walk past me in the corridor. So I had a chat with him and I didn't have a feeling from that conversation that he was giving me a kick in the butt and saying that you had better deliver or you'll be out. Absolutely not that kind of feeling.

In fact, I said to him that I'm here spending extra days in the simulator because I want to show everybody that both cars at McLaren can get the results. Martin agreed with that and said whatever you need, whatever the team can do for you, just keep asking. That was the nature of the conversation - it was positive.

Q. Have you spoken to anyone else about next year?

HK: I don't want to talk about that.

Q. There have been times this year where you have been as quick or quicker than Lewis in practice in particular. Does that give you confidence?

HK: I said earlier this year that I feel I am performing better relative to last year but unfortunately I have not finished many races. That is the problem. There have been some incidents and in Barcelona my gearbox broke so I have not been able to finish races that would have been good. That's the way it goes sometimes, but the car is now able to win races and as a driver you have to take that opportunity.

Victories do not come to you by luck very often, you just have to grab it and do a better job. That's what I'm going to do and make sure that we make a step forward. Hopefully we will see that clearly this weekend.

Q. Are you confident that the McLaren is a potential race winner at every circuit?

HK: Quite confident, yes. Certainly here in Valencia we should expect a strong result. On this type of circuit, even before the upgrade, the car was performing relatively well and in these temperatures with these tyres and the new package we can expect to be competitive.

Spa is a different kind of circuit, that will be a real test because it has some longer medium and high-speed corners that previously have been a bit difficult for us. If we can come out of there with a good result we can be quite sure that the car will be strong at all types of circuits. It will be interesting to see.

Q. Obviously the car is now strong on pace - does it also feel better to drive?

HK. It feels like a massive step forward, especially the rear stability is better and I can brake later without having problems with the rear stability. It's just got more grip, the car is more efficient so it's quicker in the straights and it's got more downforce. All around, it's just quicker.

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