Heikki Kovalainen is determined to make the most of Renault's improved Formula One form when the world championship crosses the Atlantic this weekend - despite not being familiar with Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

The Finn was disappointed not have followed team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella's lead and pushed his R27 further up the field in Monaco, missing out on the points after improving just one position on his David Coulthard-affected 14th grid slot.

"As I said at the time, there is not really much to take from that weekend," Kovalainen sighed, "I didn't have a chance to set a good time on Thursday, and it got worse from there. I was doubly disappointed because I know how hard the team has worked to give Giancarlo and myself a more consistent and faster car. But that's in the past now. I am focused on the Canadian Grand Prix, and on continuing to improve my performance."

With his career having been based in Europe in recent seasons, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will be virgin territory for the Finn, but he believes that he is as well prepared as possible for the Canadian weekend.

"In general, when I am preparing for a race on a circuit I don't know, I try and get the onboard camera images from previous seasons so I can see what the track looks like from the cockpit, understand the racing line and work out things like braking points, and which kerbs you can use," he revealed. "Then, on Thursday, I do a lap of the circuit on foot with my engineers and, along with the data from previous years, we do a kind of inspection, talking about each corner. On Friday, we really get down to work, and I can begin to see if my preparation has worked out. I hope it pays off this weekend."

Chief engineer Alan Permane admits that influences outside of Kovalainen's control help to spoil the Monaco weekend, but he is confident that the Finn can bounce back in Montreal, especially as the Renault is now showing improved competitiveness.

"It was a tough weekend mentally, because I think that it was very hard for him to learn from the experience," Permane explained, "He got blocked in qualifying through no fault of his own, and that basically dictated his result on Sunday. But Heikki has already demonstrated this year that he is a tough character, and that he bounces back quickly from disappointment. He is still learning and still improving - his attitude has been exemplary.

"I think the developments we have put on the car to improve its driveability will help him to start showing the level of performance we know he is capable of. I believe that on a more normal circuit, we will be within striking distance of BMW. With the developments we introduced in Monaco, and those we have planned for the next races, I think we have given ourselves a cushion to the midfield group - and added the performance that can allow us to race aggressively against the cars in front."

Permane confirmed that, with the team not testing between Monaco and Montreal, a lot of the preparation for Canada had been done at the Paul Ricard group test, with aero work and brake evaluations high on the list of priorities. Post-Monaco findings - and the latest rules clarification on flexible rear wings - have taken up time back at the factory since round five, but Kovalainen is confident that the team will be well-prepared for the 'flyaway' round.

"Canada is all about finding a good compromise between top speed, for which we use a low downforce package, and stability under braking and through the chicanes, in which we need good grip," he revealed, "There are some quite quick chicanes, in third and fourth gears, and we worked on this area in particular at the Paul Ricard test, as the circuit configuration we used included corners of this type, so we could evaluate the car in the right conditions.

"In addition, we have to get the brake cooling right, and you often hear the engineers asking drivers to slow down to look after the brakes, which can be a difficult situation to manage in race conditions. We worked on this area as well during testing, and the team will be paying special attention to the brakes in the opening sessions to ensure we are in a good situation for the race."

 

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