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Mixed fortunes for Kovalainen at Spa
2 September 2012
Starting from 18th place on the grid can occasionally have its advantages, and the start of the 2012 F1 Belgian Grand Prix was one such case for Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen, since it kept him out of the way of flying cars piling up at La Source seconds after the lights went out.
Dodging around the wreckage left Kovalainen looking good as others fell victim to the accident: "I had a really good start, avoided all the debris from the startline crash and was up to tenth when the safety car came out," he said.
But any hopes of capitalising on this good fortune soon evaporated as the rest of the afternoon at Spa proved a very mixed bag of fortunes for Kovalainen and his Caterham team mate Vitaly Petrov.
"There were a couple of quicker cars behind me who got past when the safety car went back in, and then I made a small mistake at the last chicane which put me back a couple of places," he said. "But I made them up quickly and was into a good rhythm just behind Vitaly.
"At my first stop we had a problem with the release from the box, and unfortunately I clipped the HRT as I was heading out," he said of the possible unsafe pit release incident which meant that the team had needed to recall him for a replacement front wing.
"From that point all I could do was try and get back in front of the cars ahead but I had another spin with a couple of laps to go," he said. "I still managed to pass one of the HRTS, but with the issues we had today that was pretty much the end of my race.
"It's not been a good weekend but we'll regroup and come back fighting in Italy at the next race," he summed up.
Kovalainen finished in 17th, three spots behind his team mate Vitaly Petrov who had enjoyed a somewhat more consistent day of things.
"I had a pretty good race and was pushing as hard as possible all afternoon and I think I finished about as high as we could have expected," said the Russian driver. "At the start I managed to get through the accident without any problems and I was up to 13th, running well.
"I pitted on lap 12 and had an issue with the release but I managed to stay ahead of the pack chasing us and kept up good pace until the second stop a couple of laps after halfway through the race," he continued. "We went onto the hard tyres and the degradation rate was good on that set so I was able to push until the chequered flag."
"We had issues at both Vitaly and Heikki's first stops," admitted Caterham's technical director Mark Smith. "But both cars had clean second stops and the pitcrew did well to put the problems behind them and make sure we did not repeat the issues in the second round of stops.
"Vitaly's final place of 14th was as much as we could have hoped for today," he added. "We know what we have to do to improve. Now we have the next race in Monza to work hard to put us some way towards where we should be at this stage of the season."
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