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F1 Bahrain 2013: Kovalainen admits to needing more time
20 April 2013
Heikki Kovalainen's return to an F1 cockpit left the Finn with as many questions as answers as he attempted to find a solution to Caterham's early season woes.
Drafted back into the team that he was unable to agree terms with during the winter, Kovalainen was tasked with using his F1 experience to evaluate where the current CT-03 stands, not only compared to its on-track rivals, but also in comparison to last year's car, on which the current model is heavily based.
Replacing rookie Giedo van der Garde for the opening practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the Finn completed three runs of around six laps, all on the hard Pirelli tyres, playing with wing and anti-roll bar settings as he tried to find a balance with the set-up. He ended the morning 20th on the timesheets, half a second behind team-mate Charles Pic, dropping to 23rd overall when the timesheets from both sessions were combined later in the day.
“The main priority was to help give my impressions of the 2013 car, in the spec it ran in for the first three races this year, against the car I raced last year, and to give my feedback on the 2013 tyres,” Kovalainen explained.
“The first impression I had was that this car, which is obviously closer to the 2012 car than what will be raced for most of the rest of the season, is certainly trickier to find a balance on than the 2012 car, and the 2013 tyres go off a lot faster than last year's.”
Caterham has always maintained that its plan was to run the CT03 in its current specification for the four 'flyaway' events that open the season, before introducing a major update in time for the start of the European campaign, in Barcelona, next month. Kovalainen, who was part of the team's race pairing from its first race in 2010 until the end of last season, will be back in the cockpit for FP1 at the Circuit de Catalunya.
“After one session, I clearly haven't had enough time in the car to find out how much we could change the handling with set-up alterations, but I've been able to give the team a lot of feedback on set-up and tyres that I think will be useful this weekend, and looking ahead to Spain, where we'll have more new parts,” he added.