Problems didn't account for lack of race pace - Kovalainen
Heikki Kovalainen says his disappointing race at the US Grand Prix was not entirely down to problems with his Lotus.
Kovalainen, who is subbing in for Kimi Raikkonen at the final two races of the season, qualified a creditable eighth but dropped to 14th by the end of the race. He suffered a KERS issue halfway through the race and also experienced a loss of downforce from his front wing, which saw his pace drop off and will not have helped with tyre degradation.
"The race didn't go the way we wanted and I'm not sure if it was the car or if the driver was just a little rusty," he said. "We had a problem with the front wing losing downforce which meant we lost pace, but this improved later on when we changed the front wing. There was a KERS issue too about halfway through the race, though not enough to account for my lack of race pace! We'll have a good look at the data and hopefully be on top of things far better for the race in Brazil."
However, trackside operations director Alan Permane said Kovalainen had done a solid job in Austin and was let down by the car.
"Heikki joined the team at short notice and impressed with his immediate pace," Permane said. "Qualifying in the top ten was a really strong performance and his lack of pace in the race was due to factors outside of his control. He lost a huge chunk of performance from his front wing which is something we'll investigate fully once our freight and personnel land in Brazil. We've identified the KERS problem he also suffered from in the race, so we're hopeful of a strong end to the season from both drivers to give the E21 the sendoff it deserves.
Kovalainen is hoping to apply the lessons he learned in the USA to Sunday's race in Interlagos.
"We'll try to have a stronger Sunday and get a better result. It was quite a smooth weekend up until the race in Austin, but in Brazil it could be a different story so let's see how it goes. The main thing is to try and get a good result. The car is right up there - we saw that with Romain's performance in Austin - and it's really good to drive so the potential is there.
"Certainly, I don't want to make any predictions. It could be a difficult weekend or it could be a great weekend; who knows? We just need to work well with the car like we did in Austin, get up to speed quickly so we're in good shape going into qualifying, and try to avoid any issues in the race. A better start with a stronger first lap will help too of course; if we put all these things together we should have a strong race."