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Kovalainen not deflated by early puncture
22 April 2012
"Overall it's been pretty good," insisted Heikki Kovalainen, despite suffering a puncture to his left rear tyre on the opening lap that forced him into the pits and left him struggling to claw back positions for the rest of the afternoon.
"I had a good start but then had contact with a car behind in turn 10 which caused a rear left puncture," explained the Caterham F1 driver. "We pitted immediately and from then on it was basically about putting in as strong a race as I could.
TV replays suggested that Kovalainen's rear wheel had made contact with the front wing of the Toro Rosso driven by Daniel Ricciardo.
"I passed [Timo] Glock quickly and pulled out a good gap to him and then went after my team mate and Ricciardo," he said about the rest of the day, which saw him finish in 17th position immediately behind his team mate Vitaly Petrov.
"That was a really interesting race," was Petrov's view of the Grand Prix. "Particularly at the start when there was a lot of overtaking and it was good to be right in the middle of the early battles."
Petrov credited some fast pit stops with keeping him out on track ahead of Toro Rosso's Ricciardo, who was struggling to recover from his own first lap incident and early pit stop.
"We made some very good pit stops ... Good enough to help me stay out ahead of Ricciardo, who I had a good battle with for quite a lot of the race," he said. "It was only towards the end when we had to let the leaders pass that we started losing a bit of time."
Both drivers were feeling positive about the advances made by Caterham in Bahrain.
"Today's performance shows again how strong we can be on Sundays," said Petrov. "This has been a good weekend all round and a great way to end the first four flyaway races."
"We can take a number of positives from this weekend, particularly from the pace we showed in qualifying and from the way we were able to look after the tyres," added Kovalainen.
"I think that was a pretty good day for the whole team," said Thierry Salvi, Renault F1 Sport Support Leader to Caterham F1. "This is another step in the right direction."
"We can be pleased with today's performance from both cars," agreed Caterham's technical director Mark Smith. "This shows we are definitely making progress ... We have a number of updates planned for the next few races, and more to come throughout the season, so we will aim to keep building on this type of performance and keep edging closer to the teams ahead."
Smith also revealed that the team were planning some changes ahead of the next race in Spain in mid-May.
"We have a number of updates planned for the next few races, and more to come throughout the season, so we will aim to keep building on this type of performance and keep edging closer to the teams ahead," he said. "Our qualifying performance yesterday gives us good reason to look forward to the European season which starts in two weeks in Barcelona."
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