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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Heikki Kovalainen column
Heikki Kovalainen
By Heikki Kovalainen
Renault F1 driver

I arrived back home in England on Monday after six weeks away for the first three races of the season.

After a quick sleep and a tidy of some very messy suitcases, I switched on my new Playstation 3 and started to play some tennis.

Obviously our competitiveness was pretty poor and we are not where we want to be

Heikki Kovalainen
Monday was a chill-out day, but it was soon back to training and preparing for the next race.

We've got almost a month until Barcelona and it's good to have a bit of a break.

For us at Renault, and especially the mechanics and other team members, it has been a very tough start to the season, not only physically but mentally.

For me personally, things have gone better since I wrote my last column following the first race of the season.

Australia was just a bad race and it was not too difficult to get over it.

I knew I could do a lot better and didn't feel any extra pressure going into Malaysia.

Heikki Kovalainen's Renault follows Mark Webber's Red Bull in the heat of the midfield battle in Bahrain
Heikki was happier with his drives in Malaysia and Bahrain (pictured)
My team boss Flavio Briatore criticised me in the press after the opening race, but I can take it.

It is better to say exactly what you think and move on quickly.

We were quite confident before Sepang that we had improved our package, but even though we had made a small step forward it was still difficult to qualify in the top 10.

However, I should have done it if I had put my best lap together - and I managed to finish eighth in the race and score a point.

Looking back now, if I had been a bit sharper at the start, I might have scored another point or two because my pace was very similar to Giancarlo Fisichella, my team-mate.

And in Bahrain I was just behind him again, although I finished ninth, just out of the points.

Obviously our competitiveness was pretty poor and we are not where we want to be.

It has been a big surprise for us that the car is so far off the pace.

I live my life in the moment and it is better to stay calm and not panic when things aren't going well

Since we put the Bridgestone tyres on for the first test before Christmas, it has been clear that the difference between the leading teams has shifted quite dramatically.

Even on the first day, it looked like McLaren and even BMW had become more competitive.

We thought we'd recover over the winter, but some days we've looked more competitive and some days we've been pretty far away.

We don't fully understand why the car is not performing like we want it to.

Heikki Kovalainen's Renault is lifted on to a crane after a mechanical failure
Kovalainen's mechanics have had a tough start to the season
It's been built by the same people who won two drivers' and constructors' championships and we still have the same strong, reliable powerful engine, so there are a lot of questions.

There is also a lot of research going on at the factory and everyone is working flat out to find out why we aren't as fast as we should be.

There's not much more I can say at the moment.

We will bounce back. We have the best mechanics, engineers and designers, and are still a fantastic team. We will find a solution eventually. But at the moment all I can do is drive to the maximum.

I am always very realistic about everything. I live my life in the moment and it is better to stay calm and not panic when things aren't going well.

My mechanics are used to bolting the tyres on and seeing it take pole - now we are struggling to get into the top 10

It is actually harder for the mechanics and the other people in the team than it is for me.

These are the same people who ran Fernando Alonso's car for the last two years.

They were used to bolting the tyres on and seeing it take pole. Then they polished it, sent it out on a Sunday and it won the race. Now we are struggling to get into the top 10.

On top of that, my crew have had a lot of extra work because of the fuel-pump problems that have affected us at every race.

They have still managed to do a perfect job - that is the strength we have in the team.

606: DEBATE
It looks as though the 2007 championship will be very exciting, with four drivers currently very close on points. Even BMW look competitive.

But that is the least of our worries at the moment.

We are just focused on making our package competitive so we can join the pace the leaders are setting. That's our target.

I have no doubt we will get there, but at the moment it's impossible to say when.



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