Heikki Kovalainen took his first Formula 1 pole position at Silverstone a year ago, but knows it will take a miracle to repeat that result in 2009.
After practice yesterday he met the press to discuss McLaren's chances in Britain and the team's prospects of gaining ground in the coming weeks.Q. How was this morning?Heikki Kovalainen:
Quite difficult. The balance doesn't feel too bad but we are just lacking grip. We improved a bit in the afternoon and the car feels better. I think we are making progress but it is going to be difficult.Q. Were you running KERS?HK:
I was running the KERS in both sessions. At the moment it's very difficult to say whether it is an advantage or a disadvantage -- Lewis [Hamilton] was not running the KERS at all. We need to analyze and see what is the verdict. I believe I felt I was still getting the benefit of the boost so we just need to see about the balance to see what we can do for tomorrow.Q. What is your best expectation for this weekend?HK:
We still haven't given it the maximum effort, we are doing that tomorrow morning. Trying to fine tune the car a bit more and then flat out in qualifying. I haven't actually looked at the times properly so I haven't seen the picture of where we are against our competitors. I always aim for pole position and will be trying for that tomorrow.Q. What do you make about all this FIA/FOTA thing?HK:
I don't want to get into it too much, to be honest.Q. What are your feelings about Silverstone?HK:
The circuit is fantastic, I think it is one of the best on the calendar. It is very fast and it has got some great corners. The atmosphere is great already on the Friday with a lot of people in the grandstands. It is a fantastic weekend. Sometimes it rains, but today was beautiful day if a little windy. Quite often we see exciting races here as well so I hope we come here in the future as well.Q. Are you losing everything in the first sector then?HK:
Not everything, but I think the majority of the time is in the first sector. It's the high-speed change of direction, the high-speed stability, the high-speed grip, is not good enough yet. I think we are most competitive in the braking areas, and in general it is not too bad. But if we can improve the high-speed stuff then we will also be quicker in the low-speed because the aerodynamics also effect the car. It is mainly related to the aerodynamic grip.Q. Obviously a year ago you had a fantastic car around here.HK:
It was actually quite funny to look at some on-board videos and listen to the comments from last year. Even then I had some problems and I was complaining about the car on Friday – looking back now it didn't look too bad compared to what we have now.
Times have changed and the car is less competitive now, but we will do the maximum job we can, like always, and today we made progress from the morning to the afternoon. We have again new parts from the team, so we are making steps forward, but it is difficult to make big jumps, and we should not get downhearted if we don't see the jumps every weekend, but we have just got to keep working.Q. Because it is all about small jumps isn't it, really?HK:
Yeah, it is all about small jumps, and keeping and finding the right balance, the right direction to go in. Then just keep chipping away little by little every weekend. And like I said we have new parts again this Friday and I think we made progress through the day so the parts seem to be proving good, but the competitors are doing a good job as well so we are not alone in that. It is going to be tough.Q. What is your impressions of this track and how it compares to others on the calendar?HK:
It's not the smoothest. It's got some quite big bumps, but it doesn't seem to be a problem traveling with the high speed and a lot of downforce loading the car and sticking it to the ground.
It jumps over them quite nicely, it's just the change of direction in the high-speed is a good feeling in a Formula 1 car. Copse, for example, you don't have to brake. I think maybe the quickest cars actually go through there flat-out. It's a pretty good feeling, I have done it before. It's not quite flat out for us yet this year. The nature of the circuit is quite hardcore and it has got some character. I really enjoy it.Q. What was your program for today?HK:
The plan for today was just to test a couple of new items, also look at the tyres and I think we succeeded in both of those. We have got some good data about the aerodynamic improvements and we need to analyse all of that and see exactly how they compare to what we have had previously. And then about the tires I think they both seem to be working OK. A little bit difficult to warm-up because of the cooler conditions, but that's it, no big problems.
I think the pace is still not quick enough against our competitors. But we made progress today and I think we can be happy about that. We have just got to keep working like we always do and hope then we will be better in the next races. This weekend is going to be tough, but we have just got to stay strong and keep pushing.