Heikki Kovalainen was ‘delighted’ after recording Caterham‘s highest finish race finish of 2012 (so far) by taking P13 in today’s Monaco Grand Prix.
The Finn drove an impressive race, and kept the McLaren of Jenson Button behind him for much of it, which was some achievement.
“That was obviously a great race for the team and I’m delighted we’ve got tenth place back and recorded our highest finish of the season,” said Kovalainen. “Despite that I think we could have had even more, but the rain came at just the wrong moment for us. If it had been fully wet and everyone had pitted we’d have been able to keep 12th, possibly even made up more in the stops, but when the light rain started falling my brake temperatures dropped and I wasn’t quite able to keep up the pace I’d had throughout the race up to that point.
“However – this is a really good day for the team, and it’s great to get back to the garage and see everyone in such good spirits. This type of track was always going to give us the chance to fight, I’d said that before the race, and it was really good fighting with Jenson for as long as I did, keeping him behind me and really pushing. We have more to come from this car throughout the season, so I think we have more races like this to look forward to, and results like today make all the hard work the whole team put in worth it.”
It was not all smiles down at Caterham though – Vitaly Petrov was forced to retire on Lap 15 with an electrical failure.
“I made a good start and passed a few cars but then a Sauber came right across me and hit me as we were going into turn 1,” explained the Russian. “I could immediately feel a problem with the front wing so we gave it a couple of laps to see how bad the damage was but then had to pit for a new nose on lap 3. From that point I was pushing as hard as I could but then I had a low battery warning light on the dash and from that point my race was pretty much over. My engineer told me to box on lap 16 with an electrical failure and that was the end of the race. 2
“It’s a real shame as I was in a strong position after my good start and as the car has felt good all weekend I would have been in with a chance of finishing really well, but these things happen in motor racing.”
Team principal Tony Fernandes once again took the opportunity to emphasise how young this team is, and what an achievement this latest result is for them. “I am obviously a very happy man today,” he said. “That was one of the most tense but most exciting races we have had since we came into the sport just two and a half years ago, and to be not only racing Jenson’s McLaren, but to be keeping him behind us and to be able to resist his attacks is a huge achievement for a team that is still young, still growing and hungrier than ever to succeed. In fact, when Heikki passed Jenson out of the pits that was definitely the most exciting moment in my Formula 1 career and something that I will remember for ever.
“For Vitaly today will go down as one of those races. It was good to see him how disappointed he was to be forced out by something out of his control as it proves how hungry he is to help us keep pushing forwards, but he has had another good weekend with us and I am sure the luck will turn for him soon. On the other side of the garage Heikki put in one of the best drives we have seen from him since we started back in Bahrain 2010 and his 13th place today puts us back into tenth in the championship and gives us a very good platform to work from for the rest of the season.
“I am also extremely proud of how the whole team worked today. The people back at the factory have never stopped working as hard as they can to give the drivers a car that they can use like they did this weekend, and the team on track were magnificent today. Calm, professional and as good as anyone else out there in the pitlane. When Heikki had to box late on in the race for a new nose it was a pretty tense moment, but they performed brilliantly, enough to make our Chief Race Engineer Jody Egginton tell them over the radio that they had done a “fantastic job lads – pure mint”, and that sentiment goes for the whole team.
“I am an optimist and our pitwall is full of people who would call themselves realists – I would probably say they are pessimists – but after today I have never seen so many pessimists so optimistic about the future. A great day for sure.”