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Last Updated: Monday, 27 August 2007, 21:41 GMT 22:41 UK
Heikki Kovalainen column
Heikki Kovalainen
By Heikki Kovalainen
Renault F1 driver

I arrived at the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend after enjoying a lovely three-week break.

I took the opportunity to have a bit of a holiday and went to stay with my family in my home village in Finland.

It was great to chill out with my parents, go to the lake and fish and things like that, and generally recharge my batteries before the back-end of the season.

Rotterdam Roadshow
Parading cars around Rotterdam was a nice end to the break

Getting away from the pressures of driving is important, though I took my trainer with me so I could continue with my conditioning.

One more reason for that is that I am running the New York marathon this year.

Jarno Trulli - who now races for Toyota and who drove for Renault a few years ago - ran it once, but I haven't spoken to him about it yet. I think he ran it in four hours something, so I'll be looking to beat his time for sure!

Part of my preparation for it is obviously the running, which I'm stepping up now, but it is difficult because training for a marathon does not sit that well with my F1 preparation.

I am sure Lewis Hamilton will be there or thereabouts come the finish

Heikki Kovalainen

I have to make sure I stick with my F1-specific training - things like special weight-training schedules and neck-muscle building exercises - alongside the extra running I have to do.

It will be tough but the run is 4 November - just a couple of weeks after the end of the season - so I will be doing my best to increase my stamina and running over the next few weeks.

After my break in Finland I then took part in the Rotterdam Roadshow - where Renault cars are paraded on the streets of the town - and that was good fun.

And then I flew to Turkey for the race week, where things went even better than I or the team expected them to.

It is always our target to challenge the BMWs and to keep aiming high and it all came together brilliantly for me.

It started with a good qualifying and the car worked really well for me, responded superbly at every turn, and everything came together. To get sixth in between the two BMWs - and just failing to pass Lewis Hamilton for fifth - was great.

Heikki Kovalainen trails BMW's Nick Heidfeld in the Turkish Grand Prix
To finish between the BMWs was a big boost for Renault
We're not where we want to be just yet, and I think it's too early to say we are alongside BMW now, but we continue to improve - even if we're not challenging for the title.

That is now down to two teams and four drivers, and it will be a really close fight between McLaren and Ferrari.

Ferrari got a one-two at the weekend but I still don't know if their drivers will be able to do it - they are a long way behind, although it would only take a problem for one of the McLarens and another Ferrari win to turn it around.

But I was asked earlier in the season who I thought would win the championship and I said Fernando Alonso - and I will be sticking with that guess.

It is hard for me to give a particular reason for it, I just think that he has the experience and the fact that he has been in this position before is so valuable.

It's just a gut feeling of mine really - and I'm not just saying that because he's my friend!

We all have our sights set high and experiencing a weekend at the sharp end was brilliant

Kovalainen on his Renault team
I know all the guys really well, we get on and they are all good drivers, I just think Alonso has the edge.

That said, I don't subscribe to the feeling that Lewis Hamilton can't win it because it is his debut season.

He is a very serious contender and he does not make many mistakes, so I am sure he will be there or thereabouts come the finish.

And there's no question for me that Alonso will be affected by his rivalry with Lewis - I'm sure he won't be.

I don't think those two, or the McLaren team, really worry about all the talk in the media, they just get on with things and try to do their best race by race.

And don't forget Alonso has been through all this before - last year he was behind Michael Schumacher for a time in the standings, but he didn't panic and came from behind to win the title.

Of course, that was with Renault and there's no denying it has been a bit different in the team this year because we have not been challenging.

It's been tough but one of the strengths of this team is that we all pull together and keep pushing, even when it feels like you're getting nowhere and no improvement is being made, and weekends like Turkey are a nice reminder of how it used to be.

I've seen the rumours linking Alonso with a move back here, but I have not talked with anyone about that

It's a completely different atmosphere when you're pushing for places at the front and there was a real buzz in the pits from all the guys this weekend.

We all have our sights set high and experiencing a weekend at the sharp end was brilliant.

There is no doubt that Renault are one of the strongest teams in the championship and I am sure we will be back next year.

The car will definitely be competitive again and I would love to be part of it.

The team are due to make a decision about my future around the Monza weekend in September.

I've seen the rumours linking Alonso with a move back here, but I have not talked with anyone about that.

I just know that this team will be up there again next year and I think we could achieve good things together so I will wait for their decision.

Heikki Kovalainen was talking to Andrew Benson

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