Heikki Kovalainen has insisted that his fourth place finish in last weekend's Canadian Grand Prix had not come as a relief after several tough races - but only because he had never lost faith in his own ability as a race driver.

Unlike fellow rookie Lewis Hamilton, the Finn has struggled, not only to score points with world champions Renault, but also to match his team-mate for pace. Accidents and mechanical frailty have also punctuated Kovalainen's debut campaign, but he is adamant that his self-assurance has never wavered.

"Canada was not so much of a relief," he told Thursday's press conference at the USGP, "I've always felt confident, even after a lot of mistakes and after bad races. I haven't lost my confidence and I've always felt the team has been 100 per cent behind me so, in that way, it wasn't a big relief. It was good to score points, and to get five points is very important for myself, for the team and to get the championship going, especially now our car is getting better. I think that's important but, other than that, it doesn't really change my life and our team's life much at all."

Kovalainen did admit, however, that he forced himself to re-evaluate how he went about a grand prix weekend after repeated problems in Montreal.

"Obviously, mistakes in free practice cost me a lot of track time and, when I went into qualifying, I really didn't have 100 per cent confidence in how much I could attack," he revealed, "[Qualifying] was actually the first time that I'd used the supersoft tyre, because of all the problems in practice. And, when you go in to qualifying with that kind of situation, it's always going to be very difficult when everybody else is on the top of their game and you are still finding your way around the track and with the car and with the tyres and everything.

"So I think the main lesson from that weekend is that we've got to do the free practice properly, we've got to make sure that we set up the car 100 per cent ready for qualifying and then I think everything will be back to normal."

Asked to expand on how changes to the R27 had improved the car since Monaco, the Finn admitted that the change was noticeable.

"Already in Monaco, the car was performing a lot better there and, at the end of the race, my pace - even though I was driving at the back of the queue - was pretty good," he said, "And Fisi had a strong result there.

"Throughout the weekend in Canada, the car felt pretty good but, obviously, a couple of mistakes - one on Friday and one on Saturday - completely compromised my race, especially qualifying. We have to make sure that we get the full potential out of our car, but I think we should be able to fight for top ten positions now on a consistent basis. When we get there, then the races become a lot easier, then we should also score points more consistently."

 

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