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.

shares
comments
Kovalainen delighted with new Lotus
Previous article

Kovalainen delighted with new Lotus

Next article

Rosberg hindered by teething troubles

Rosberg hindered by teething troubles
Load comments
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren  Plus

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren 

From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Plus

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing windtunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher Plus

The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles at a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay Plus

Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021’s title fight climax Plus

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021’s title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Qatar Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage Plus

How Hamilton dominated in Qatar despite missing a key Mercedes advantage

There was simply no stopping Lewis Hamilton on Formula 1's first visit to Qatar. The Mercedes driver eased to pole position and led every lap to secure an utterly dominant victory - even without a key Mercedes weapon in his arsenal to increase the heat on Red Bull heading into the final two races of the gripping 2021 title race

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021
How Surtees became an unappreciated Ferrari great Plus

How Surtees became an unappreciated Ferrari great

John Surtees and Enzo Ferrari parted ways amicably but could have achieved more together. On the weekend that Formula 1 makes its bow in Qatar, a country best-known for staging bike racing, NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls the career of the formidable ‘Big John’ - the first man to achieve success at the highest level on two and four wheels

Formula 1
Nov 21, 2021