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Kovalainen enjoys chance to compete in the midfield

The backmarker teams had a solid day out in Suzuka, with Heikki Kovalainen proving the best of the bunch with a 15th place finish.
The first lap mayhem at the start of the 2012 F1 Japanese Grand Prix gave some of the backmarker teams a chance to feature in some genuine midfield battles during this weekend's race at Suzuka.

Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen finished 15th and even ran as high up as 11th after the early safety car that followed Fernando Alonso's premature exit from the race, after a spin through the first corner that had scattered the field.

The Finn was able to hold off Jean-Eric Vergne for much of the first stint, but then couldn't prevent himself slipping backwards to 15th. "I had a fantastic start, avoided all the problems in turn 1 and passed Glock as soon as the safety car came out," he said after the race. "I was running really well in 11th until the first set of stops.

"In that first stint the car felt great ... We were even thinking about doing a one-stop race," he revealed. "But towards the end of the [second] stint they started to go off so we came in with ten laps left and from there it was all about making sure we got to the flag without any problems."

His team-mate Vitaly Petrov was not as lucky, suffering first a KERS failure and then a radio failure - which was why the team wasn't able to alert him to the blue flags being waved at him to make way for faster traffic coming up behind. As a result of ignoring the flags, Petrov got handed a penalty by race control.

"My first stop was fine, but after that we lost KERS and that obviously lost me time," he said. "I also had a problem with the radio and could not hear the blue flag calls and that ended up with the drive-through penalty."

It was a shame for Petrov, who'd got off to a positive start to the race: "At the start I had to avoid the problems in front, but got through that okay and pretty quickly settled into a good rhythm."

Both Caterhams finished the race albeit a lap off the lead, and sandwiched the car of Timo Glock who was the last Marussia left standing after Charles Pic retired 14 laps from the end with engine issues.

“I'm very happy to say it was a good race for us today," said Glock. "Heikki came through it quite well but I was right behind him and I was able to overtake him in the Esses. I was up to P11 but I knew that would be short-lived because we were struggling a bit with traction out of the last corner and obviously they have KERS and we don't."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
07.10.2012- Race, Pit Stop, Timo Glock (GER) Marussia F1 Team MR01
07.10.2012- Race, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7 and Charles Pic (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR01
07.10.2012- Race, Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula 1 Team F112
05.10.2012- Free Practice 2, Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham F1 Team CT01
06.10.2012- Free Practice 3, Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham F1 Team CT01
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Pirelli 2017 tyre test [Credit: Pirelli]
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26.11.2016 - Free Practice 3, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31 and Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
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