Caterham make progress and Kovalainen delivers
24 June, 2012
Jun.24 (F1 Media) A very committed qualifying performance from Heikki Kovalainen at the Valencia Street Circuit lifted the Finn ahead of the Toro Rosso duo, on the grid, for the European Grand Prix.
Caterham staff hailed the deed as a sign that their team is making progress and getting closer to their aspiration of bridging the gap between backmarker and genuine midfield runner. While the team has appeared in Q2 before, they have often done so when benefitting from problems at other teams. Today Kovalainen managed to best both Toro Rossos on pace.
“Today’s performance was the result of a great effort by the whole team,” said Kovalainen. “This morning we weren’t sure if we could do it or not but both runs in Q1 were really good. As the temperatures went up and the track kept evolving my car just felt better and better and I really got the most out of it on that final lap on the softs.”
Kovalainen couldn’t match his Q1 pace in Q2 but still did enough to qualify ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, the sole Toro Rosso driver to make it through to the second session. “I think tomorrow could now be really interesting for us,” continued the Finn, “it looks like we have the chance to race them [Toro Rosso] and that’s a significant step forward for our team. We’ve been getting closer to them in the last couple of races, but this track, the conditions here and the upgrades we’ve brought give us the chance to make good on our goal of joining the midfield, so now we need to translate today’s result into more good news tomorrow and keep moving forwards.”
Regarding the race, technical director Mark Smith added that Caterham’s goals are essentially unchanged: “make sure we bring both cars home, take the fight to the cars just ahead of us and be there to take advantage of whatever opportunities arrive in the race.”