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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Hamilton feats 'are no surprise'
By Andrew Benson

Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen
Kovalainen (right) says he always expected Hamilton to do well
Lewis Hamilton's impressive start to his Formula One career should not have caused such a shock, according to fellow rookie Heikki Kovalainen.

The Renault driver said: "I was not surprised. I have known Lewis since he was racing in go-karts.

"I knew he was very good and he has a very good team and competitive car.

"Fernando [Alonso, Hamilton's McLaren team-mate] knows how to give the team good direction, and I was expecting Lewis to be on the pace with Fernando."

Kovalainen, who Renault believe to be a potential future star, has had a difficult start to the season struggling with an unexpectedly uncompetitive car.

But the 25-year-old Finn said he was not concerned by comparisons with Hamilton.

Lewis deserves all the attention because he has got the results to merit it

Heikki Kovalainen
"It doesn't bother me at all - he deserves all the attention because he has got the results to merit it and I haven't," said Kovalainen, who writes a column for BBC Sport.

"I'm not jealous about it. I have nothing against Lewis - I wish him all the best. He has done some very good races.

"Everyone knew he was a very good driver and he is now in a very good team with a very good car.

"He has been able to push to the limit but I am confident once we solve our problems and we get our package more competitive, and I have a car that gives me the confidence to push, then we will get the headlines."

Kovalainen said he had known since the beginning of testing at the end of last season that McLaren would be strong.

He noted the team had adapted well to the Bridgestone tyres everyone is using this season following the departure of Michelin, which supplied Renault and McLaren among others last season.

Lewis Hamilton's leads McLaren leads Heikki Kovalainen's Renault in Bahrain
Hamilton and Kovalainen have had contrasting fortunes this season
And he believes McLaren have been invigorated by their new driver line-up of Hamilton, who has been their protege for a decade, and double world champion Alonso.

"The McLaren team looks very fresh, like a better environment to work for the drivers, and the whole team looks confident, like it's a new start for them as well," he said.

"I was not surprised - they had a good car in winter testing. The car is competitive and it is working very well on the Bridgestone tyres.

"The only thing I am surprised about is that they are so close to Ferrari after Melbourne."

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen dominated the first race in Australia, with Alonso and Hamilton a long way back in second and third.

But Alonso led a McLaren one-two in the next race in Malaysia, and Hamilton was second between the two Ferraris in Bahrain on Sunday.

Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton are tied on points at the top of the world championship.

Heikki Kovalainen column
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