Heikki Kovalainen was frustrated by a problem with his DRS system in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix today. The Finn explained that the wing wasn’t opening properly, costing him valuable time and preventing him from getting anywhere near Q2.
“It’s been a bit of a tricky day. In FP3 the car had quite a lot of understeer early on but we managed to dial that out towards the end of the session. By the time FP3 finished the car felt ok but I was having issues with DRS and that was obviously costing me lap time. In qualifying I had traffic on the first run and couldn’t lap as fast as I wanted to on the out lap. The tyres weren’t quite up to temperature and that left me with one lap on that run to put in a time but with the tyres not where we wanted I wasn’t able to get in a quick time. On the second run my out lap was much better but the only problem was with the DRS again. The guys had worked hard to fix it but it was still struggling to open and I could feel that in the car. Whenever I hit the button it felt like it wasn’t fully activated and around a track like Spa that’s going to cost you time. In the end the last lap put me into our usual position and for where we are right now that’s about as good a performance as we could hope for.”
With Nico Rosberg getting a five-place grid penalty, Kovalainen will start seventeenth. Caterham teammate Vitaly Petrov will be alongside him on the ninth row but the Russian was much happier with his afternoon where he felt he got the maximum out of his car.
“I had a pretty decent qualifying session and I’m pleased I could get that last clear lap in as the session ended. On my first run in quali there was quite a lot of traffic and that may have cost a bit of time, but I think I got as much out of the car as I could today, so for me that’s ok. The race tomorrow looks like it will be dry but even with a clear track there are always surprises in Spa so I want to make sure I have a good clean race and can take advantage of anything that happens ahead.”
Having finished over a second-and-a-half down on the Q1 cut-off time, technical director Mark Smith has promised a huge effort from the team to make up ground but doesn’t expect that gain to come tomorrow.
“FP3 was a busy session for us and we ran through as much of the programme carried over from yesterday as we could. Heikki’s car had a DRS issue so we tried to resolve that before qualifying but it was not 100% successful and he went into Q1 without the full benefit of DRS. In qualifying we opted for two runs on the medium tyres and ended the session in positions that are probably an honest reflection where we are in performance terms this weekend. Despite that we can have a positive race tomorrow and we will redouble our efforts to find more pace, for Monza, Singapore and the rest of the season.”