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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 June 2007, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Heikki Kovalainen column
Heikki Kovalainen
By Heikki Kovalainen
Renault F1 driver

Many, many things happened this weekend for myself and the team in Canada, but to come from the back of the grid in the race and finish in fourth spot was a real positive.

It was a real turnaround after what were tough practice and qualifying sessions.

Heikki Kovalainen
Kovalainen's fourth place finish was his best grand prix result

We started the weekend in good shape in first practice, but in the second I pushed the car a bit too much on turn seven, hit a wall, and there was a lot of damage to the suspension and chassis.

Then I had only done six laps on Saturday morning when the engine blew up, before I made another mistake on turn four in qualifying and took the rear wing off.

All of that meant I knew we needed something special to get anything from the race.

A lot has been said in the press about my making mistakes, crashing too much and that maybe the pressure has been getting to me, but I was always quite confident we could move through the places.

The team were brilliant, fixing the car every time very quickly, and we all made sure we just carried on, forgot about the mistakes and kept pushing in the hope that it would all come together.

And that's what happened, although we were obviously helped by the safety car interventions.

With the pace of the car, we always felt we could quickly get up to the top 14 or 15 from the back, but after that it is always difficult to pass so all the safety cars worked in our favour.

We actually developed our strategy in the hope the safety cars would be needed, taking on more fuel on our first stop and only using the supersoft tyres for as few laps as possible in the middle part of the race.

To be honest, if I hadn't had such a tough weekend I would've had a bigger go at third and taken more risks

Heikki Kovalainen

That meant we were able to stay out longer and, on the harder tyres towards the end of the race, I could push on a bit.

In fact, as we entered the last few laps, I saw Alexander Wurz's Williams was on the supersoft tyres and I thought I could pass him and get a place on the podium.

The likes of Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso struggled on the softer tyres, but I think Alexander was the only one who got them working in the end and I just couldn't get past him.

To be honest, if I hadn't had such a tough weekend I would've had a bigger go at third and taken more risks, but I didn't want to risk a third crash of the weekend.

Considering the problems we'd had before Sunday, and considering what was a disappointing result in Monaco last time out, I though it was better to bring the car home in the points without incident.

Heikki Kovalainen
Beating Ferrari in Canada will provide a major fillip for Renault

It was important for myself and the team to show that we could do a job and get some points when I had a good opportunity; that's why I decided to be conservative rather than go for one extra point.

And, all in all, the car performed better this weekend than it has all season.

I don't think we were too far behind the BMWs or Ferraris, and I'd like to think we are now pulling away from the likes of Toyota and Williams.

I think we can be pretty happy with that. We're heading in the right direction and, while we're not where we want to be yet, we're on track.

Of course, we're not quite up with the pace of McLaren just yet, but I'm pleased for Lewis Hamilton to get his first victory under his belt.

He has already shown how good he is in previous races, and in qualifying in pole position, and he enjoyed a nice, incident-free race to come home in first.

It's safe to say he has the talent to have a good season and he has a very good car, so I expect him to compete all season and fight for the championship.

But I don't think it's right to say that his McLaren team-mate Alonso is feeling the pressure - I don't think Hamilton has any impact on him.

606: DEBATE

He has shown time and again in the past that he is mentally very tough and in a long career he has not made many mistakes.

He pushes very hard for the win every race and mistakes can happen when you race like that.

Yes, he made might have made a mistake in Barcelona and one early on again in Canada, and because they have happened in a short period of time it looks very dramatic, but I don't think it affects him.

He is still one of the top guys out there and he is going to be very strong, fighting for the championship for sure.

As for me and the team, we will go to Indianapolis in the same frame of mind as here - trying to be positive and trying to improve.

We are happy with the result in Montreal, but it is important we keep our focus and keep striving to be competitive.

As long as we're not winning, we are not going to be totally happy.

Readers wanting to put questions to Heikki can either ask them on our 606 pages via the link in the text, or send them to Renault for inclusion in their podcast on podcast@renaultf1.com



SEE ALSO
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