Chinese GP - Renault - Preview
Hot on the heels of his first Formula One podium finish, Heikki Kovalainen heads to the Chinese Grand Prix in a positive mood and with 30 points on the board with two rounds remaining. Giancarlo Fisichella
returned to the points at Fuji Speedway
and is looking to finish a difficult season on a more positive note.
Heikki, you scored your first ever career podium last Sunday in Japan. A special moment?
"Absolutely. It was a good reward for me, but also the whole team. After a difficult start to the year, I think it was good for everyone in the team to have this small success, which is something they were used to during the past two seasons when they won the world titles. It is a good boost to the morale to try and finish the season in the best way possible."
China is another new circuit for you, what are your expectations?
"It is another one of the new F1 races, and like in Japan there is a very special atmosphere. The spectators are still learning about the sport, and they are very enthusiastic. The whole Grand Prix week in Shanghai will be enjoyable but at the track, I want to get into a good rhythm as soon as possible on Friday and make the most of each practice session, because I have never driven here before.
What do you think of the circuit itself?
"I have been watching and working from the recordings of past races, especially the on-board camera views, and I would say that the circuit is a bit like Bahrain. There are some long straights, quick changes of direction and some heavy braking areas. At this kind of circuit, you need a very good aero balance on the car to be quick through the fast, flowing sections. We pay a lot of attention to achieving good braking stability because you can gain a lot of time there. The important thing will be to work well on Friday, to find the limits for qualifying and the race. We are determined to show what the car is really capable of during these final two races."
Giancarlo, the Japanese Grand Prix was run in heavy rain, conditions you excel in...
"I have always felt comfortable driving in the wet. In Japan, the car didnít have a perfect set-up for the conditions because we had hoped it would be dry on Sunday. There was a lot of aquaplaning, and I was fighting with the car, but I still got to fifth place after what was probably one of the hardest races of my career! The points I scored were valuable and it was a very strong team result."
Do you enjoy the Chinese Grand Prix?
"Yes, I do. It is a driverís circuit, and also a big challenge for the engineers to find the right setup for the different sections of the track. Fortunately, we have plenty of time to find the right settings during the Friday practice sessions."
What areas do you focus on when tuning the car set-up?
"The circuit includes some long straights and high speed corners but also a number of slow speed sections. As always, the key will be to find the best solution between having a stable, neutral car in the high speed curves and good straight-line speed to overtake competitors on the straights. We will be fine-tuning the aero levels to find the best compromise from Friday onwards."