by Russell Atkins

Heikki Kovalainen shrugged off the crash that brought a premature end to his opening day's practice at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, and has vowed to make amends by qualifying inside the top ten tomorrow.

The Finn re-designed the front of his Renault R27 after drifting wide through turn two early on in the afternoon. That prevented him from taking to the track again and left him down in an entirely unrepresentative 22nd position on the timesheets at the end of session two, but he is confident he has established a good base from which to attack anew on Saturday.

"The first session was fine," he affirmed. "I was happy with the work we did, and I was able to learn the track which was the main thing I wanted to do there. I had already watched some videos from last year, so I knew where the lines and braking points were.

"The car balance felt pretty good this morning - the handling was neutral and I could attack the braking zones well. Over the first couple of laps on new tyres it didn't feel too bad, but we had some graining on the rears after that. My timed lap wasn't perfect, but the package felt quite competitive. I think as more rubber goes down over the weekend the track will come to us. We are not panicking too much about changing things.

"Second practice was cut very short after I made a little mistake on the exit of turn seven. I just ran a little bit too wide. I thought I had made the corner, but I slightly clipped the grass on the exit of the kerb and it sucked me into the concrete wall quite hard. It damaged the suspension but also punctured the rear tyre, which meant I couldn't make it back to the pits. It was disappointing to lose running time, but this is a demanding circuit where one small mistake can cost you a lot

"There's a reasonable amount of damage to the car, but that's what the mechanics are here for. I have to give 100 per cent, and if sometimes I crash I know they can fix the car and I just have to make sure it doesn't happen again. I need to show I'm fully committed. We can work things out overnight and make sure we are in good shape tomorrow."

The 25-year-old - participating in only his sixth grand prix weekend as a fully-fledged Formula 1 driver - now wants to demonstrate Renault's full potential over the rest of the meeting, especially after the French outfit seemed to take a step forwards last time out around the streets of Monte Carlo.

"The most important thing now is to have a good qualifying tomorrow," he insisted. "The last thing the team wants is to be slow, but I think I'm quite well-prepared. Obviously we have to wait and see where the others are, but I think we can get into the top ten in qualifying if everything goes well, and maybe even the top six. The car does feel good."

 

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