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I feel very welcome in the team says Heikki

Heikki Kovalainen

After launching their new car last week and undergoing a private three day testing session at the Jerez circuit in Southern Spain, the McLaren Formula One team is back on track this week alongside their main rivals for the impending 2008 championship season.  Regular drivers Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen will be on duty this week, with Heikki kicking off the session yesterday. Speaking to the team’s official website after last week’s test, the Finn explains how positive things are looking at this stage…..

You have had three days in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-23 this week, what are your first impressions of the car and the team?
I am really excited after my first test with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. Everyone has made a huge effort to get two new cars out on track this early in January and I have really enjoyed every day so far.

Are you settling in well with the test team and your engineers?
Absolutely, everyone has been really helpful and I feel very welcome in the team.

What has been your focus at the test in Jerez last week?
The most important thing has been to become familiar with the way the team operates and to get to know all the people in the test team. It is also important to get the feel for MP4-23 and to understand all the systems in the car.

Has it been an easy process to adapt to the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes car, are there any key basic operational differences to the Renault?
It has been quite easy, I was reasonably happy first of all with my seat and instruments which sometimes can take some time to get right. Of course there are some systems that function differently to Renault but we have been able to go through many of them already at the McLaren Technology Centre before the test so it’s been ok so far.

You have just completed a positive week in Jerez, do you expect all the tests to run so smoothly?
You never know how the new car will behave and reliability is always a worry at this time of the year, so I was actually surprised that we didn’t have any issues that stopped us running. It really shows the preparations that have been put in by both McLaren and Mercedes-Benz have been exceptional.

This week was the first time you have worked with Lewis, did you get on well?
Really well. He is a good team mate and we get on well. We seem to have similar comments about the new car so it also gives us good platform from where to build our year together. I was really impressed with Pedro’s input, he is an incredibly good driver and really important for the team. I think he can help me a lot during the year.

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