Both Heikki Kovalainen and Bruno Senna lost valuable track time on the opening day of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend, and gave their mechanics extra work to do after visiting the unforgiving walls of the Ile Notre Dame.
The Finn became the first major casualty of the weekend after losing the rear of his Caterham entering turn nine on the far side of the circuit. Although the contact between right-rear wheel and wall did not appear to be too serious, the momentum of the impact then flicked the right-front corner into the concrete, with more devastating effects and the entire side of the car was removed.
Kovalainen, fortunately, was unhurt in the accident, which brought out the red flags and halted the session for fully 20 minutes while marshals could clear the debris.
“I made a mistake on the exit of turn nine and hit the wall, obviously doing some pretty substantial damage to the car but, thankfully, not to the chassis,” the Finn reflected, no doubt relieved that no extra harm was done amid some haphazard retrieval of the #20 machine, “I want to say thank you to the team for doing a great job and getting the car fixed and ready for most of FP2. As soon as we got it back to the garage, the guys started work on rebuilding it so to get that job done and give me FP2 track time was a very good achievement.”
Kovalainen was equally delighted to find that the basic feel of the car had not been lost in the rebuild, and remained optimistic for the remainder of the weekend.
"Before the off, the car had felt good pretty much from the first lap and, in FP2, I had the same sort of positive feel from the balance,” he confirmed, “I think we look okay here - not quite as close as we were in Monaco, but certainly close enough to have a good race on Sunday.”
Despite the setback, technical director Mark Smith confirmed that the day had been a positive one for the Caterham operation.
“Heikki's accident obviously meant we had to change his run plan for the day, but excellent work by the team gave him enough laps on both tyre compounds in FP2 to make sure we minimised the loss of track time,” he reported, “His times this afternoon were good, but there is definitely some more to come, as he had a few issues with traffic on the supersoft tyres. I think we will see him pushing hard all weekend.
“[Team-mate] Vitaly [Petrov] also had a good day, working through his whole plan and setting good times on both the soft and the supersoft tyres. We have some more work to do on his car to help improve his low-speed traction and front grip, but we know what to do with that so I think we will be in good shape tomorrow on both sides of the garage."