Q and A with Heikki Kovalainen
Q: Heikki, the European season begins with round 4 of the championship in Barcelona. How have you prepared for this race?
Heikki Kovalainen: "The main preparation came during testing at this circuit last week. We ran through our usual pre-race program, working on car set-up, while I focused on my driving, finding the right lines and good braking points.
"It was our normal series of preparations before we race at a circuit, and of course, we also carried on collecting data to continue the analysis of the problems we have experienced since the start of the year."
Q: What factors do you need to take into account to set-up the car for this circuit?
Kovalainen: "Barcelona is a very demanding circuit for the car. You need a good chassis balance in the long corners, good aerodynamic grip, and also good mechanical performance - particularly on the exit of the slow corners.
"The track is very hard on the tires, and you have to pay attention to the wear levels, particularly on the long runs. With that in mind, you also need to tune control systems such as the traction control properly, in order to be quick over a full race distance."
Q: The circuit was modified during the winter. Does the new layout change much for the drivers?
Kovalainen: "A little bit, but it's not too significant. The main thing is that you need to pay even more attention now, because the new part of the circuit is more slippery than the rest of the circuit and that can catch you out.
"Overall, though, it's not a big change: it means the circuit has more corners than before and it's quite fun to drive!"
Q: How do you expect the car to perform this weekend in Spain?
Kovalainen: "When we tested at the track last week, the car seemed to be working quite well. The new parts have helped us make a small step, so hopefully it will be enough compared to our immediate competitors.
"Clearly, it is going to be another hard-fought weekend at such a demanding track, but we will be pushing to the maximum - and trying to get everything out of the car during qualifying and the race." Renault