Q & A with Heikki Kovalainen

Despite a bit of a troubled first day of work with the new Lotus, Heikki Kovalainen was delighted with the potential of the car

Q & A with Heikki Kovalainen

The Finn talked to AUTOSPORT at the end of the day at Valencia.

Q. You didn't get many laps in today, but what are your general impressions of the new Lotus?

Heikki Kovalainen: Very positive. The feeling and the sensation from the car was totally different compared to last year. The systems were working well on the first installation lap and then we started to develop problems with the power steering. We found the problem now, it was a failure inside the power steering that was causing an intermittent problem. It has a lot more potential than last year's car; it's just difficult to say how quick it is yet because we didn't give it a single lap to set a time. It was just to check the installations. Tomorrow we will get a better idea.

Q. You've been very positive about the way that the team has improved over the past 12 months. Does your first taste of the new car give you the same feeling?

HK: Yes. It's backing up the same feeling that I've had since the beginning of my Lotus career. I knew that last year was going to be difficult and it was going to be tough to build a better car last year, but we have been able to plan, design and build this car over a long period of time. Certainly, this car is a good platform for developing further. There are a lot more people involved in the team now; it's a proper F1 team. We still need to grow, we still need to improve our facilities and notch it up a gear or two, but it's excellent progress and the team can be very proud. We're in much better shape compared to last year.

Q. Despite not getting many laps in, were most of the systems working as expected?

HK: Yes. Everything was working pretty well. We were checking the gearbox and engine systems, anti- stalls, gear changes, clutches, these kinds of things and it was all working fine. We didn't have any problems other than the power steering and we know why we developed that problem. We think it happened yesterday evening at fire-up, so it's nothing major and we know what caused it. We will fix it and start again tomorrow. I'm confident that power steering will work and all the systems have been checked so we can get some laps on the car and see how the tyres feel and start working on the performance.

Q. It's a while before you can focus purely on performance, but are you looking forward to pushing properly to get a real feel of the car?

HK: I had a go today already! I wanted to give it more of a go but the power steering was failing inconsistently in different corners so it knocked some confidence away to have it jamming! You don't expect that. But I'm feeling very positive and eager to do more laps. Hopefully the team can have a good day tomorrow and maybe on Friday I can get a better idea and push the car a bit more. I feel full of energy after the winter and feel like I can push the car to limit. I'll just have to wait a few more days!

Q. How does the feeling compare to the first time in the car last year, when you realised that, inevitably given the circumstances of the late design of the car, you didn't have a car with great potential?

HK: It's a totally different feeling. Last year I was trying to put in nicely that we had a lot of work to do as it was very obvious from the first test that the car wasn't feeling right and not functioning like it should do. The feeling today was that immediately everything functioned correctly, the balance of the car is there and the fundamentals are all there. The chassis, the engine, the gearbox, the transmission, everything is working correctly and it all feels and sounds correct. It's a very big difference to last year.

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Kovalainen delighted with new Lotus

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