Heikki Kovalainen said that he had high hopes before qualifying that he could get his Caterham into Q2 and, in the end, only missed out on seventeenth place by a few hundredths of a second.
The Finn enevtually qualified eighteenth, but will actually start tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix one place higher due to a penalty for Pastor Maldonado.
“That was a good session for me,” said Kovalainen. “I’ve had a good balance all weekend and I went into this session knowing I could push. I’d said to my engineer before quali that I thought we could get into Q2 and we were very close – if it hadn’t been for one of the Marussia cars slowing me up in the final sector we’d have been there, but it’s not a huge issue, that’s what happens in Monaco.
“Around here I think tomorrow we have the car to be able to fight the cars ahead throughout the race. So far this season we’ve been able to stay with them for pretty much most of the first two stints, but because it’s a shorter lap here we’d like to be able to fight for the whole race. Whether it’s dry, wet or in between, it doesn’t really matter to me – whatever happens I’m looking forward to it.”
Team-mate Vitaly Petrov was nearly a second off the pace of Kovalainen in Q1, but reveals that he did not have KERS at his dispoal during qualifying.
“That was pretty good – the car’s felt good every time we’ve been out and I think we probably got as much as we could out of it today,” said the Russian. “We had an issue with KERS this morning so we had to shut that off for quali, so that obviously cost me some time, but we worked around that and pushed as hard as we could in Q1 so it worked out as well as we could have hoped.
“The red flag (caused the Sauber of Sergio Perez five minutes into the session) obviously disrupted everybody and even though I’d got a lap in before the session started it wasn’t a quick one. When I went out again the second set of tyres didn’t feel quite as good, but all in all it’s been a positive weekend so far.
“Tomorrow will be exciting and I’m looking forward to it. We’ve already seen that people can make mistakes here so we want to make sure we’re there to take advantage of whatever happens on track and fight to the flag.”
Technical director Mark Smith thinks that Monaco is one of the tracks on the calendar were Caterham are most likely to be able to mix it with their more-established rivals, and thinks that the team can hav ea good race tomorrow.
“This has been a good weekend for us so far, and today’s performance is another step in the right direction for us,” he said. “Heikki put in another very good lap and had it not been for traffic he would probably have been into Q2.
“On Vitaly’s car we had a KERS problem at the end of FP3 so we had to switch that off for qualifying and that clearly cost him some time. Despite that he drove very well and continues to reward the team with maximum effort every time he’s in the car.
“Tomorrow is a chance for us to race the cars ahead for longer than we have been able to so far this season, so both drivers and the whole team are up for the challenge. The weather could play a major factor here and we are prepared for whatever it throws at us – hopefully we see an exciting race and we will aim to get both cars to the chequered flag to capitalise on whatever goes on up ahead.”