Heikki Kovalainen claims fourth place could have been possible but for better circumstances in the Chinese Grand Prix, the Finn having to make do with ninth place at Shanghai.

Ending a run of points finishes that has stretched nine races, Kovalainen got a strong start from 14th on the grid to run as high as tenth in the damp early stages. It is also the first time this year that a Renault has not scored a point.

However, Kovalainen claims the car was too difficult to drive, the Finn complaining of excessive understeer, something that saw him plummet back down to 14th place as rivals got the better of him.

Nonetheless, as the circuit began to dry, Kovalainen's Renault began improving and coupled to a strong strategy managed to work his way back up the order to be shadowing David Coulthard in eighth place in the final laps.

Kovalainen ran out of time though, leaving him out of the points and frustrated that his poor start to the race - and a long stint trapped behind the slower Kimi Raikkonen - prevented him from finishing higher.

"The start of the race was a disaster for me", Kovalainen, who is now one race away from becoming the first rookie to complete every race in their maiden season, said.

"I made a good start and climbed three positions, but the understeer was just really bad, with low grip. Four cars passed me, and I lost too much time. We changed to dry tyres at exactly the right time, and after that the car was pretty good.

"In the middle of the race, I lost time in a very strange way: Kimi had just lapped me but he was on old wet tyres, while my dry tyres were new. I couldn't pass off-line because it was wet, and I didn't want to have an accident with a front runner, so I lost about seven or eight seconds until I could overtake him. After that, I pushed as hard as possible, but I couldn't get past David at the end: I was quicker, but not by enough.

"The car ended up running pretty well in the dry, but this result is because of my mistake in qualifying yesterday: without it, I would have been in the top ten, with a better result. The team deserved a better result than we got, as the potential was in the car to be fourth, and I'm sorry we couldn't do it for them today. Now we need to go to Brazil, and just go for broke."

Giancarlo Fisichella also finished out of the points, the Italian at one stage looking as though he would be good for fifth place before being forced to make a late pit stop, something that dropped him down to 11th place at the chequered flag.

"I did my best all the way through today, but I think we could have done better with the strategy. The car was very heavy and inconsistent at the start, and we could have been much faster on a lighter fuel load.

"We changed to dry tyres at the right moment, and after that, I knew I had one more stop to make so I just pushed to the limit. It nearly worked for us, but we just ran out of time. It is frustrating to finish only eleventh after overtaking so many cars today, especially because we were capable of more."

 

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