Renault’s technical director, Pat Symonds, has defended Heikki Kovalainen after his poor performace at last weekends Australian Grand Prix led team boss Flavio Briatore to slam his Finnish driver. Kovalainen had a poor debut for the squad, seemingly going backwards from the moment he set foot in Melbourne. The race didn’t go well for the Finnish pilot, and a bout of spins and offs led Briatore to speak his mind to the media. Branding Kovalainen’s performance as “rubbish” and offering no defence, Symonds has come forward to offer some explanation for the drivers poor result and cushion Briatore’s blows.
Symonds explained that Heikki suffered a fuel system problem on Friday and this limited his time on the circuit. This in turn led to a poor qualifying performance which resulted in a what can only be described as a disastrous race for the 25 year old. Symonds went on to say that Friday is important for all the drivers, and if it goes wrong from the start, the rest of the meeting can be very difficult.
What happens on Friday has a knock-on effect all the way through the weekend, and unfortunately he didn’t have a good Friday, he didn’t have a good Saturday. A lot of time lost with some problems on the fuel system, and of course partly the weather on Friday as well. Pat Symonds.
Heikki took a different view to his own performance, and appears to be very hard on himself in the hope that there won’t be a repeat of this in the coming races. Flavio has already stated that Kovalainen needs to redeem himself in Malaysia, and with Nelson Piquet Jr waiting in the wings, Heikki will need to improve if he is to keep his seat.
We had a lot of problems on Friday and Saturday so I did miss quite a lot of track time and as it’s a new circuit [to me] it probably would have helped me a little bit. But in any case, it should not be an excuse.
It’s very disappointing and I should have been able to do a lot better than this. But in any case it didn’t happen, and all we can do is forget about it and go to Malaysia with our heads up again and start from zero. Heikki Kovalainen.
Heikki seems to be aware of the errors he made, and appears to be taking the public comments made by his employer well. While it may not be the best way to handle drivers, Flavio will be hoping that the Renault car and its pilots will be on better form if they are to have any chance of fighting for the title again in 2007.