Heikki Kovalainen has claimed his positive outlook was key to his fourth place finish in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, as the Finn equalled Renault's best performance of the season so far by matching team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella's result from Monte Carlo two weeks ago.

After suffering innumerable problems throughout free practice and qualifying that had left the Formula 1 rookie plum last on the grid for the race, an assured and error-free drive as all around him lost their heads saw Kovalainen take the chequered flag a mere 1.4 seconds shy of a rostrum finish, and in tandem with Williams' Alex Wurz made him inarguably a contender for the turnaround of the weekend.

"That was such a satisfying result for me," he enthused afterwards. "In the end we needed a bit of luck and safety cars and all these things, but we had our strategy bearing all that in mind and it worked out perfectly. You have to take advantage of your opportunities and I think I did exactly that.

"I seemed to spend a lot of the afternoon overtaking other cars, but we had changed the set-up before qualifying to give me better straight-line speed and that definitely paid off. I had a perfect strategy today and the car was working very well. The conditions were very hard, with a lot of marbles out on the track which made it really easy to make mistakes. I didn't make any, and this is a great reward after two really hard days here in Montreal.

"All the problems I had this weekend only made me more determined to succeed, and it just goes to show that you should never, ever give up because things can change in Formula 1 quite quickly. I never stopped pushing; I just carried on like I always do. That's the only way I can drive. You have to stay positive, keep looking ahead and the results will come."

"I was so close to the podium," he added, glint in his eye, "and at least once I was near enough to have a go at him (Alex Wurz), but in the end I decided I had had too many accidents already this race weekend to risk it!"

With rumours even beginning to circulate over the Canadian meeting that Kovalainen was coming under pressure to retain his seat at the French squad on the back of a lacklustre start to the campaign, this result could not have come at a better time, though he himself insists he was never unduly concerned.

"I've always kept my head up," he stressed. "Other people were maybe worrying too much, but I was always ok. I never lost my confidence and today proved I'm quite capable of coping with the pressure. Everything fell into place for me here, and hopefully things will continue the same way next weekend in Indy."

Team boss Flavio Briatore was similarly impressed by his young charge's success, and hopeful it was indicative of better things yet to come.

"Heikki showed why we still believe in him," the flamboyant Italian asserted. "He held off (Kimi) Raikkonen and (Fernando) Alonso at the end, kept a cool head all the way through and did a fantastic job. Congratulations to him on a great race."

 

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