Early race incidents saw a promising weekend for Lotus Racing come to nothing, Heikki Kovalainen involved in the incident that saw Mark Webber airborne and Jarno Trulli having to pit for a new nosecone after first lap contact.
“I don't know exactly what happened at the beginning as I managed to get away from the mess at the front but I was hit from the back and at the same time lost my front wing,” said the Italian. “It all happened during the first lap, so I thought it was the end of the race for me, but I managed to get back to the pits, and the mechanics did a great job to fix the car.”
“The handling was great, so I'm happy about the performance and when I pushed I was able to put in some really good lap times.”
“Obviously it was a very disappointing end to our 500th race,” said Mike Gascoyne, the team's Chief Technical Officer. “Jarno got hit at the start, and we had to change the nose. He also took a hit at the back, and that caused a gearbox problem. We were able to fix that and send him out again, although he was three laps down. He was held up by some of the other slower cars, but at the end of the race he was able to push and really show the car's pace.”
However, much of the attention will be on Kovalainen's role on Webber's lap nine crash, as Heikki himself describes it.
“First of all it's good news that both of us are ok. Mark had a hardcore flight, and it could have ended up much worse, so it's good we're both fine. It's such a shame the race ended that early – I was going really well, pulling away from the guys behind by about half a second a lap, and with Mark we were racing for position so I was always going to defend.”
“I didn't do anything wrong and he just ran into me.”
“I think he missed his braking point and he ran into me at a very bad angle – his front tyre hit my right rear and he took off. I had to make a mandatory visit to the medical centre, and shook hands with Mark there, but I'm absolutely fine, and glad Mark is too.”
“[Heikki] was defending his line and racing for position, and that's what we will always do in that situation. It's just a great shame, and we're very glad that neither driver was hurt,” said Gascoyne, defending his driver as others suggested the Lotus man should have allowed Webber past.
“Heikki's accident is part of racing,” added Team Principal Tony Fernandes. “It's a shame as both cars are coming on really well, but there is some good to take out of this. Despite being hit, Jarno managed to finish the race, and at the end it was great to hear him say 'the car is bloody good!”