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GP Week : Issue 195
Lotus super-sub Heikki Kovalainen’s return to Formula One didn’t exactly go according to plan, as the returnee failed to make it through to the points in sunday’s us Grand Prix after a difficult race for the Finn. Kovalainen, drafted in by the enstone-based squad at the very last minute to stand in for compatriot Kimi Raikkonen in the final two races of the year, had at one point looked like scraping into the top ten but could only manage 15th in the end after a an extra pit stop for a new front wing and issues with his car’s Kinetic energy Recovery system compromised his race. The former Caterham driver, who hasn’t competed in a race since last year’s season- ending Brazilian Grand Prix but has taken part in several practice sessions with the outfit this season, took no time at all to get up to speed in the Lotus, a car he isn’t used to, and was competitive right from the get go. He had made it through to the top ten and qualified a strong eighth but dropped positions at the start of the race. He got the jump on the Force India of Paul di Resta at the first round of stops, after pitting earlier for the hard tyres and making use of the fresher rubber to overhaul the scot when he made his stop, and was running on the fringes of the top 10. However, Kovalainen then began to lose front downforce and was re-passed by di Resta on lap 30 with Nico Rosberg shortly after that also easing past in the Mercedes, prompting Kovalainen to make a second stop for a new front wing which cost him vital track position and a chance of scoring points. Despite the sister Lotus of Romain Grosjean finishing second to bring in a hefty haul of points, Kovalainen failing to score is sure to be a disappointment to both the team and driver as the main reason the entone-based squad cited in picking the Finn was that they needed an experienced driver to help them score points and close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari in the constructors’ race. “We had issues with downforce so we changed the front wing and after that it was much better, although still not as good as it’s felt previously this weekend,” Kovalainen said. “There was a KeRs issue too, though not enough to account for my lack of race pace.” Heikki's back – shame about the result 33 GPWEEK.com // 33 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> UNITED STATES