Heikki Kovalainen's hopes of a third successive points finish in the French Grand Prix were quite literally torpedoed just yards into the race on Sunday, following a strong qualifying performance that had equalled his highest-ever starting spot in the top flight.

The 25-year-old - finally getting to grips with Formula 1 after a shaky start to his maiden campaign - lined up sixth and held that position on the opening lap, or until the Adelaide hairpin at least. At that point he found himself being turned around by the Toyota of Jarno Trulli, who had left his braking too late and T-boned the Renault. Subsequent repairs left the frustrated Finn a lap down in 15th place at the chequered flag, despite setting times almost as quick as the race leaders as he endeavoured to fight his way back.

"My race was over on the first lap really," Kovalainen acknowledged, "and it's a big missed opportunity for me. I was turning through turn five when Jarno hit me, spun me round and punctured the right-rear tyre. I had to pit, lost nearly a lap and then it felt like I was slowing down for blue flags almost every lap!

"The times seemed quite competitive when I was in clean air, but it was hard to get into a rhythm to be honest. I was racing around the same group of leaders all race, which shows I was on the pace, but there's nothing you can do after an incident like that. Qualifying and practice showed we are getting on the pace step-by-step, though, so I am looking forward to Silverstone in seven days' time."

The R?gie's Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds was equally disappointed at the outcome of a race that, at the outset, had seemed to offer so much.

"This afternoon's race failed to fulfil the promise of qualifying," the Briton admitted. "In Heikki's case, he was pushed off by Trulli on lap one and from then on it was bound to be difficult as we tried to shift his stops around to get him out of the inevitable traffic. Our Silverstone test went very well ten days ago, however, and we will be looking to fight back strongly."



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