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'Positive statement' on Kovalainen soon
23 September 2012
After a few weeks of maintaining a low media profile, Caterham Racing have broken radio silence to comment about the future of their lead driver Heikki Kovalainen.
"I want to address the noise that has arisen around Heikki," said team principal Tony Fernandes on Saturday. "It is quite possible that what has been going on over the last couple of days has not helped him on track.
"But I am pleased to say that discussions are going very well and we are aiming to make positive statements about that in the next few weeks," he said.
Kovalainen had indeed been looking to have been struggling uncharacteristically in Singapore, only narrowly qualifying ahead of the two Marussia cars on Saturday and ending up behind his team mate Vitaly Petrov on the grid.
"Honestly it's been a tough weekend for me so far and today's performance wasn't really any better," he admitted. "I've been struggling to find a decent balance in every session and that definitely affected me today."
Saturday's press statement from the team was the first from Caterham in several weeks, with their media blackout raising speculation about what was happening with the organisation.
"Over the last couple of races we deliberately stopped sending out press releases because, truthfully, we did not believe our performance was giving us anything worth reporting," admitted Fernandes.
"However, today's qualifying performance has begun to give me confidence that we are back on the path to the promised land of the midfield," he continued.
Fernandes went on to suggest that the team had got distracted from its targets and gone the wrong way with development focus over the summer.
"We put a lot of effort, probably too much, into the major package we introduced with the new exhaust system, taking up a lot of resource and costing us time that could have been better spent on the more conventional aerodynamic upgrades that will put us where we want to be," he said. "Now we are working twice as hard on all the key areas of performance on the car and the last piece of the jigsaw is to find more downforce.
"All the other key areas of the car are working well and, after a nervous few days, I am looking forward to the remaining races of the season," he continued, adding that while Kovalainen might be having a tough weekend in Singapore the team was happy with the way that second driver Vitaly Petrov had picked up the baton.
"I think Vitaly's performance today might just be the making of him as a Caterham driver," said Fernandes. "He drove outstandingly well today and I have never heard him speak so positively over the radio. He enjoyed his drive and his crew did a brilliant job to fix his car, and give him the platform to show what he can do."
"'m really happy with how quali went today," said Petrov. "It's my Father's birthday and the performance is my present for him."
Not that the day had gone entirely to plan, as Petrov hit the wall and did extensive damage to the right rear of his car in FP3 to bring out a red flag and early end to the session.
"He [my father] told me this morning, 'Don't push too hard' - and then I went and crashed the car in P3!" said the Russian. "The boys did a fantastic job in the garage to repair the car and it was actually all ready 15 minutes before Q1, so thank you very much to them."
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