• Bahrain Grand Prix - FP1

Caterham needs new direction - Kovalainen

ESPN Staff
April 19, 2013 « Perez 'amazed' at level of criticism | Mercedes has 'got to find some more time' - Hamilton »
Heikki Kovalainen completed 20 laps in the Caterham during FP1 © Sutton Images
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Heikki Kovalainen believes Caterham needs to take a new set-up direction with its car having had his first taste of the CT03 during FP1 for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Kovalainen rejoined the team this week in a reserve driver capacity to help it with its development of the car as Caterham plans on introducing a major upgrade in Barcelona. After completing 20 laps and setting the 20th fastest time, Kovalainen said there were clear differences with how the car handles compared to its predecessor and that he thinks changes should be made.

"It's quite different to what I had last year," Kovalainen said. "Fundamentally it's the same, obviously the tyres and set-up is impossible to exchange. It's quite a different feeling; if I was racing I would start looking to make changes straight away to get it more what I think it should be. They're sort of similar areas to what the race drivers have said earlier and the engineers are expecting so there would be a few changes I think that could be done.

"It's more unbalanced than I experienced last year and it's more difficult to drive; more inconsistent. It's more difficult to nail a good lap even in qualifying when the tyres are fresh, I think the car is on a bit more of a knife-edge. But to a certain extend it is not a surprise because of the way the car has been modified in terms of ride-height and in terms of some stiffnesses it's actually that kind of direction. But with the tyres we have now I'm not convinced it's the right way to go. Maybe we should reconsider the set-up direction that the team's taking."

Kovalainen believes set-up changes may rectify some of the problem but he also feels the rear of the car needs developing.

"I think part of it is solvable with set-up and of course when we are improving the car and bringing updates to the car it's really one area that I think we need to improve that is the back end of the car. The back end needs to be stronger and if we can't achieve it by introducing parts at the front I think we really need to look at the back of the car and see how we can do that."

While a reserve driver role is not Kovalainen's preference, he admits he would rather be working with the team in his new capacity than have no role at all.

"I'm definitely happy to be back here. I wouldn't have to be; if I didn't want I could stay at home, nobody's forcing me to do this. I'm definitely happy to be back and of course I would rather be racing but I never really wanted to leave Formula One in the first place. It wasn't my decision - that I was fed up with it - things just worked out that way and now I'm just happy to be back even if it's limited driving I'm happy to do that. It'll give me a feeling for the car and for the tyres and that can only be a good thing for the future.

"There are no plans. If I do a few more Friday sessions later on could be a possibility. There are no plans immediately now to race with anyone, but just being here, being with the team and doing a little bit of running I think can only be a good thing for the future."