Heikki Kovalainen says he doesn't feel he will be affected too much by his five place grid penalty for the second round of the new F1 season in Malaysia this weekend.

The Caterham driver was handed the penalty for overtaking under the safety car during the Melbourne race, which means he will lose places on the grid at Sepang as a result.

However, Kovalainen said he wasn't worried about the impact it would have on his race, arguing that he felt confident he would quickly make up the places lost.

"I've been looking forward to getting back to Malaysia and after the race in Australia it's good that we can get straight back on track so quickly," he said. "I've accepted the penalty I was given for passing Vettel under the safety car - it was definitely a bit harsh but the rules are set and it's just unfortunate I made a small mistake that will put me back five places on the grid at Sepang.

"It's not really a problem - we know we can pass the cars that will probably be ahead on the grid and I'll just have to do my best to put myself as far up the grid as I can on Saturday so we can minimise the effect of the penalty in the race."

Team boss Tony Fernandes also played down the penalty by insisting that he expected his cars to be quicker in the race than in qualifying anyway.

"It feels like only yesterday that we were making our debut at Sepang, and recording what was for us an historic first appearance in Q2 in only our third ever race," he said. "While I would obviously like to see us repeat that in 2012 I am not sure if we are quite there yet. We have obviously improved our pace relative to our 2011 speed, but the teams ahead have also improved, so even though we are closer than this time last year we still have work to do to bridge the gap in qualifying.

"However, in the race I think it looks like a different matter. At the end of last year we were agonisingly close to a number of cars ahead, and this year our race lap times in Australia were on a par with at least three cars ahead. With a bit of luck, which obviously deserted us in Melbourne, I think the Malaysian race will give us a chance to show just what we have achieved over the winter, and that gives us good reason to be optimistic about the weekend ahead."


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment