Interview with Lotus' Heikki Kovalainen
21 November 2013 – Heikki Kovalainen reflects on his debut run in the Lotus E21 at the Circuit of the Americas and looks ahead to this weekend’s season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix...
Heikki, what do you think of Interlagos?
It’s a great circuit and certainly different from Austin. There are some really nice corners, some more ups and downs and it runs anti-clockwise. The weather can be interesting when there’s potential for rain as it can make for some really challenging conditions. It’s a good place for us to end the season as it's one of those tracks where anything can happen. The track itself is quite tricky. It's pretty narrow in parts and you need to make sure you get your lines right or it's very easy to make a mistake. It's also fair to say that it has one of the best atmospheres of the whole season. The fans are incredibly passionate about Formula 1. They're very knowledgeable and they turn the whole weekend into a giant party in the stands. It's pretty cool on Sunday when you're on the gird and all the stands are bouncing. It really is a cool place to race Formula 1 cars.
What are your feelings on your Austin weekend?
The race didn’t go the way we wanted and I’m not sure if it was the car or if the driver was just a little rusty! We had a problem with the front wing losing downforce which meant we lost pace, but this improved later on when we changed the front wing. There was a KERS issue too about halfway through the race, though not enough to account for my lack of race pace! We’ll have a good look at the data and hopefully be on top of things far better for the race in Brazil.
Are there plenty of positives heading to Brazil?
Apart from the race it was an encouraging weekend in Austin, so I feel well prepared. The car is quick for sure. It’s fantastic to drive when things are going the right way, so if we can get on top of the issues we had in Austin then the potential is certainly there for a good result. I don’t think we could start the weekend much better than we did last time out, but we can sure finish it better! Let’s see what happens; my goal is to help the team achieve their target in the Constructors’ Championship, so I’ll be pushing right to the end.
What do you think of the E21 now you have a weekend’s experience of it?
The E21 feels good and it gives you the confidence to attack straight away as you can lean on it pretty comfortably without it snapping away from you; it’s really a stable car. This was certainly one of the reasons why I was able to get up to speed pretty quickly. It’s really kind on tyres too and you really notice this on the longer stints. Overall, it’s a great car.
Has it been good to work with the Enstone crew again?
It’s been very straight-forward with no issues at all which has really allowed me to concentrate on the car and the racing. There are some familiar faces around the garage from my time here in the past, which always help you to settle in too.
What do you want to achieve in the final race of 2013?
We’ll try to have a stronger Sunday and get a better result. It was quite a smooth weekend up until the race in Austin, but in Brazil it could be a different story so let’s see how it goes. The main thing is to try and get a good result. The car is right up there – we saw that with Romain’s performance in Austin – and it’s really good to drive so the potential is there. Certainly, I don’t want to make any predictions. It could be a difficult weekend or it could be a great weekend; who knows? We just need to work well with the car like we did in Austin, get up to speed quickly so we’re in good shape going into qualifying, and try to avoid any issues in the race. A better start with a stronger first lap will help too of course; if we put all these things together we should have a strong race.