By Berthold Bouman
Caterham are hoping to build on the progress they made in Spain, and are optimistic ahead of round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Monaco Grand Prix, the most prestigious race on the 2013 calendar. There is no room for errors at the Monte Carlo street circuit, one mistake, and the race is over.
Cyril Abiteboul: In Barcelona we built on that performance
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul is hoping the car upgrades introduced in Spain will help his team to make more progress. “The Spanish Grand Prix was a very busy race for us, the busiest of the season so far. We raced a hybrid 2012/2013 car for the first three races of the season and then introduced a number of new parts in Bahrain on Charles Pic’s car that helped him secure the best ever performance our team has seen in pace terms since we came into the sport,” Abiteboul said.
And he added, “In Barcelona we built on that performance, introducing the first major 2013 package on both Charles’ and Giedo’s cars but, honestly, it wasn’t an easy weekend for us. We’re still a relatively young, small team and bringing such a large number of new parts always presents challenges with set-up and integration of the package into the cars, particularly with such limited time to test your ideas on Friday and Saturday.”
Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1
Giedo van der Garde: It’s a pretty mad weekend
Dutchman Giedo van der Garde has been on the podium in Monaco several times during other race events, but knows the circuit is a tough challenge, “It’s a pretty mad weekend, with a lot of guests and fans everywhere, closer than you see anywhere else in the season, but once you’re in the car it’s very important to have a good flow or you’ll lose time and increase the chance of making a mistake.”
He thinks the smaller teams have a chance to do well at the street circuit, “Monaco’s also a place where the smaller teams, like us, can do something special. It’s a shorter lap than many of the other tracks we race on, and everyone has to run as much downforce as possible, so outright speed isn’t the key.”
Charles Pic – Photo: Caterham F1
Charles Pic: We are running with a different set-up
Charles Pic also knows the circuit is a great challenge and said, “For the car it’s completely different than almost any other track, so we are running with a different set-up there to optimise the mechanical grip.”
The Frenchman also thinks the Monaco race is an opportunity for the smaller teams to score points, and explained, “You can hope that it can be a good chance for you to finish in a good position, but with such a tight circuit and so many chances for something to happen it’s something we can’t control so we have to be focused on optimising the car, extracting 100 per cent for qualifying and then focusing on the race. We’ll have to make sure we go the right way on tyre choice and strategy, and then we’ll see. We’ve definitely been improving over the last couple of races, so the aim is to carry that through to Monaco.”
Caterham are currently 11th and last in the Constructors’ Championship, while Pic and van der Garde are 20th and 21st in the Drivers’ Championship.
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By Berthold Bouman
Caterham will also bring new parts for round five of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya, for all teams a familiar circuit as they have spent a lot of time testing their cars on the Barcelona track during pre-season testing in February.
Charles Pic: We made pretty good progress at the last race
Like all other drivers, Charles Pic is looking forward to race in Europe again, and he is also a fan of the Barcelona track, “I have to say it’s a track that I like a lot. Normally the weather is great — it’ll certainly be warmer than when we were testing there in February! — and I think that with how we finished off in Bahrain it will be an interesting and, hopefully, a good weekend for us.”
Keeping up with the other race in Formula One — the development race — is also very important for Caterham and Pic commented, “Everyone brings new parts to Spain but what is really important is optimising the car for the new package, for the parts you bring.”
Charles Pic – Photo: Caterham F1
“Everyone at the factory and in the wind tunnel has been working really hard on the updates we brought to the last race, and what we’ll race this weekend and at the other races this year, but it’s not as easy as just putting on the new parts and going faster — we’ll continue the hard work on track by making sure we can find the best set-up for these parts with the specific demands of the Barcelona circuit.”
And the Frenchman added, “We know everyone else will have updates, so for us it’s important that we can find a little bit more than our direct rivals, and keep that momentum up all year. We made pretty good progress at the last race, and I’m confident we’ll do the same in Barcelona.”
Giedo van der Garde: The most important thing is that we get the set-up right
Dutchman Giedo van der Garde agrees with his team colleague and is looking forward to test the new parts on Friday, “I’m excited about the weekend ahead, especially as we have some more new parts on the car that should help us build on the step forward we saw from my team mate’s car in Bahrain.”
Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1
“We’ll be running the new parts from Friday and we’re not going to make any predictions about what they’ll bring. The most important thing is that we get the set-up right with them first, then we can start really pushing and see where we are in quali and on Sunday. I’ve been at the factory in the last week with the engineers and in the simulator and I know we’re well prepared for the week ahead.”
Caterham are 11th and last in the 2013 Constructors’ Championship, and Pic and van der Garde are 20th and 22nd in the Drivers’ Championship.
• Red Bull Spanish GP Preview
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• Marussia Spanish GP Preview
By Berthold Bouman
A surprise this week as Heikki Kovalainen has signed as reserve driver for Caterham for the forthcoming two Grands Prix of Bahrain and Spain. He will be testing new parts during FP1 and deliver feedback to the Caterham engineers. Caterham stated that the Finn ‘will be helping to support the introduction of the first performance updates to the 2013 car, an important milestone in the strategy the team are working to in the current season’.
Cyril Abiteboul: Kovalainen has six years of Formula One experience
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul is delighted to welcome Kovalainen back to Caterham and said in a team statement, “He has six years of Formula One experience behind him so he is perfectly placed to provide us objective feedback on the various types of configurations we will run and to give us an objective view of the 2013 tyres against his experience with the 2012 compounds.”
“Having invested in Heikki for our first three years of competition it would be a waste not to leverage the valuable expertise he brings. As F1 is a team sport, he will also provide support to Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, who are both doing a good job in their first months with the team.”
Heikki Kovalainen returns to Caterham – Photo: Caterham F1
Charles Pic: I was pleased with my performance in Shanghai
Pic finished in 16th place in Shanghai, and said, “I was pleased with my performance in Shanghai and now the aim is to take that on to the race in Bahrain and keep making decent progress before we get back to Europe.”
And the Frenchman added, “We’re also bringing some new parts to Bahrain so we’ll work on optimising their performance as much as possible in each session. This is only the first stage of the 2013 developments we’re bringing so we’re very realistic about what we might find this weekend, and we’re not going to make any predictions about what they’re going to bring in terms of lap time, but we’ll focus on integrating them into the package we’ve used in the first three races and see where we end up.”
Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1
Giedo van der Garde: China was a pretty tough weekend
Dutchman van der Garde explained the difficulties of the Sakhir circuit, “It’s quite a technical circuit that evolves a lot as the weekend progresses. It’ll be very sandy on Friday but with every lap that’s completed it rubbers in and the grip levels improve a lot – that’s important in each session, particularly quali as you need to time your run to make the most of the track evolution so strategy will be really important all weekend.”
Van der Garde wants to push harder this weekend and said, “Coming straight after China, the race in Bahrain is also a chance for me to get back to the performance levels I want to be racing at. China was a pretty tough weekend, but I’ve had a couple of days to recharge since leaving Shanghai. Since announcing my F1 drive I’ve been really clear that the first few races were always going to be tough for a rookie, but it’s all part of the learning process so I’m as positive as ever and looking forward to getting back to work.”
Caterham is 11th and last in the 2013 Constructors’ standings, while Pic is 19th, and van der Garde 21st in the race for the 2013 Formula One crown.
• Red Bull Bahrain GP Preview
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By Berthold Bouman
Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde finished the Malaysian Grand Prix in an encouraging 14th and 15th place, and both drivers are looking forward to the race in China, round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship.
Charles Pic: We’ll be working on several performance areas
For Frenchman Charles Pic, it will be his second Formula One race at the Shanghai International Circuit, and he will work with his team to address several problems they encountered at the start of the season.
“Last year was my first race in China and I thought the track was pretty good,” Pic said. “The lap starts with a very long straight with a tight right hander at the end which is a natural place to overtake right at the start of the lap. One area we will focus on in the practice sessions is making sure the car’s very stable under braking so I can attack into each braking zone — you need that and very good traction out of the slower corners to push the cars ahead around the whole lap.”
Charles Pic – Photo: Caterham F1
And he added, “On Friday and Saturday morning we’ll also be working on several performance areas that the team has been looking at since Malaysia, particularly around dialling out the understeer issues I had in Australia and Malaysia. We have a few set-up options to try to help with that, and some ideas we’re going to look at with Pirelli so I’m sure we can make good progress on that.”
Giedo van der Garde: Shanghai a mix of slow, medium and high-speed corners
Dutchman Giedo van der Garde is hoping for sunny weather, in order to do some proper testing on Friday. “Hopefully it’ll be better weather this year as FP1 last year started out wet and was a bit damp for the whole session so I wasn’t really able to push,” van der Garde said.
“It would be good if it was sunny as that would mean we can get the most number of laps done and one thing we are going to be focusing on in China is work on improving our setup options for qualifying, using the practice sessions to give us as many options as possible for the race but also for quali.”
Pit stop for Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1
About the circuit he said, “It’s a mix of slow, medium and high-speed corners so finding the right balance to deal with the whole lap is going to be key to performance in both quali and in the race. We had oversteer issues on entry into the corners in Malaysia and Australia and that definitely hit my race pace, particularly as it was impacting on tyre degradation levels, so we’ve done a bit of work on that with Pirelli in Milan and back at Leafield since Malaysia so we’ll see what we’ve achieved when we get to Shanghai.”
Caterham is currently 11th and last in the Constructors’ Championship, and Pic and van der Garde are 18th and 19th respectively in the Drivers’ Championship.
• Red Bull Chinese GP Preview
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By Berthold Bouman
Mixed fortunes during the Australian Grand Prix for both Caterham drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, they finished in 16th and 18th place respectively, but at least they made it to the finish line, whilst others like Williams driver Pastor Maldonado had problems keeping their cars on the right track.
Charles Pic: One of the toughest challenges of the season
Pic expects a lot of support from the Malaysian fans this weekend, “Malaysia will be the first Caterham F1 Team home race for me and I’m looking forward to what will be a very busy week, but one where I think we’ll see a lot of support and a Grand Prix that really pushes the physical preparations we’ve done over the winter.”
And the Frenchman added, “We have quite a few events that we’re doing in the build-up to the race itself and it’ll be great to meet the Malaysian fans, but once we’re in the car it’s back to work in one of the toughest challenges we have all year. The heat and the humidity make driving 56 laps on Sunday pretty difficult.”
Giedo van der Garde with his helmet especially designed for the Malaysian GP – Photo: Caterham F1 Team
Giedo van der Garde: Busy training programme
Dutchman Giedo van der Garde has a busy training schedule to prepare him for the challenges of the Sepang International Circuit, famous for its sudden rain showers and high humidity. He already has arrived in Malaysia and said, “I went straight to Malaysia as it’s important to start adjusting to the heat. I raced in GP2 there last year but Formula One is a big step up in terms of the physical and mental preparations you need to make so my trainer Carlos and I have a busy program planned to make sure I’m ready for every session in the car.”
About the circuit he commented, “On track Sepang gives us an interesting challenge. We haven’t seen track temperatures in pre-season or in Australia close to what we’ll have this week and as the circuit evolves quite a bit over the weekend managing degradation levels from Friday through to Sunday will be critical, but we saw in Australia that our car performed well on the primes so we’ll look to build on that this weekend.”
He’s confident his team will do well during their home Grand Prix, “The cars run pretty high downforce levels at Sepang and that helps throughout the lap, but one of the key areas we’ll work on in the practice sessions will be maximising our pace in the really quick corners.”
“Something the engineers have told me is that since the team came into the sport in 2010 their cars have always performed better in hot temperatures, Tony [Fernandes, team owner] has said before it’s because the team has a Malaysian heart, so let’s see if that continues this year!”
• Red Bull Malaysian GP Preview
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By Berthold Bouman
Caterham also has totally renewed their driver line-up ahead of round one of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship at Melbourne, drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde will defend the honours of the Anglo-Malaysian team in Australia this weekend.
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul: A proud moment for the whole team
Caterham’s new Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul thinks it will be a proud moment for Caterham, “Australia will be a proud moment for the whole team. 2013 is our fourth year in F1, the first with our new livery and the first season start since we moved into Leafield.”
He is especially proud about the development of their first in-house designed and built new car. “The wind tunnel we use has been upgraded to meet our exact specifications and is now producing results that turn into definite improvements. We are continuing to improve the efficiencies and working practices within the team so we can compete both on track and as a viable business with a secure long-term future and we are bringing in talented people at all levels to keep pushing us forward.”
And he added, “We have the facilities, we have the people and we have the infrastructure we need to take the next step forwards. We will do that in a calm, measured way, one that is grounded in a realistic view of the highly competitive world in which we operate, but we will do it with the greatest possible level of energy, passion and enthusiasm.”
Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic – Photo: Caterham F1
Charles Pic: We’re definitely ready to start racing
Frenchman Charles Pic, who moved from Marussia to Caterham, likes the Melbourne street circuit, “The circuit itself is very cool. It’s quick but as it’s a temporary street circuit the cars run with high downforce and it’s a good challenge to get a really clean lap in. FP1 is always quiet as the track is very green for the early part of the session, but it evolves a lot over the weekend and you need to time your qualifying lap right to make the most of the rubber that’s being laid down.”
He too, is ready to roar after winter testing, “After the tests we’re definitely ready to start racing. We have a good idea of where we’re going to start out and I think we have a very interesting season ahead of us. Whatever happens, I’m enjoying myself in Caterham and it’s great to be part of a team that has such an exciting future ahead.”
Giedo van der Garde: I can’t wait to get started
Rookie Giedo van der Garde can’t wait to get started and he commented ahead of his maiden Grand Prix, “Melbourne will be my first Grand Prix start and, even though it’s taken a while to reach this point, I’m completely prepared and really looking forward to getting back to racing.”
“It’s still a different world, being a race driver rather than a reserve, but I’m enjoying every minute,” the Dutchman said.
“Over the season, I know Spa is going to be a great race as it’s so close to home, but for me the most exciting moment of 2013 will be when the lights go out in Melbourne and everything I’ve dreamed of for so long comes true. I’ve worked hard all winter and in the tests to prepare myself and I’m ready, physically and mentally!”
• Red Bull Australian GP Preview
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By Berthold Bouman
A busy day at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain today, as it is the first day of the first pre-season testing days, but early in the morning, before testing officially started, Caterham revealed their 2013 contender, the CT03, to the public.
According to Technical Director Mark Smith, the CT03 is the first car produced in the Leafield Technical Centre, and therefore ‘marks an important milestone in the development of the team’. As all other teams, Caterham also had to work on their 2014 car, and therefore decided the CT03 would rather be more an evolution of its predecessor, and not a completely new designed car.
Smith commented about the changes of the 2013 design, “Among the most obvious are around the lower chassis where the side pods have been significantly undercut to improve airflow to the rear of the car. The diffuser, engine cover and cooling exits have also seen major changes and there are more subtle improvements to other areas of the car, such as the sidepod turning vanes and the lower tea-tray area,” Smith said.
All Photos: Caterham F1
But he’s already thinking about the future development of the car, “This is the package we will take to race one in Australia and as part of the 2013 upgrade program we will then bring new front and rear wings and a new diffuser soon after the start of the season.”
Cyril Abiteboul, who was appointed Team Principal last year, commented, “This is the first car we have produced since I joined the team so this is a proud day for me. I am very pleased that we have been able to allocate our resources and budgets as efficiently as possible to produce a car that will allow us to consolidate our position in Formula One whilst also starting work on the 2014 car as early as possible.”
The CT03 has a slightly different livery this season, and Abiteboul said, “From the outside, the most obvious change to CT03 car is the livery. Whilst retaining the green and yellow paint scheme that has become synonymous with our team since 2010, we have refreshed both colours to enhance their visibility on track and give them what will be, we believe, one of the best looking liveries in the pit lane.”
He’s also happy with the choice of drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. “Charles and Giedo are both young and dynamic and we expect that their enthusiasm for the sport and the team will be fuelling our growth. Additionally, they provide clear proof of our dedication to developing young driver talent and now, any aspiring driver who dreams of F1 can see that there is a clear route to the F1 grid under the guidance of the Caterham Driver Development Program, the 2013 format of which will soon be presented,” he said.
Tony Fernandes, Co-Chairman of the Caterham Group said, “Having stepped up to the role of Co-Chairman of Caterham Group I will be playing less of a day-to-day role with the team but I am delighted that we go into our fourth season in such a strong position.”
And he added, “I am realistic enough to know that we still have a long journey ahead of us, but the dream is steadily coming true. We have invested in the long-term, not taken any short-cuts and we have everything in place to keep moving forwards.”
By Berthold Bouman
Great news for the Dutch Formula One fans, Caterham F1 has confirmed that Giedo van der Garde, their 2012 reserve driver, has been promoted to full-time race driver for the 2013 season. Earlier in his career van der Garde drove for the Caterham GP2 team, and scored six podium places and two wins.
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul commented, “Everyone in the team is delighted that we can finally confirm that Giedo will be racing for us in the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship. He has been part of our family since early 2012 when he joined our GP2 team and was appointed as reserve driver for the Formula One team.”
And he added, “He acquitted himself extremely well in both his GP2 season and his six FP1 sessions, progressively improving his outright pace, technical feedback and his relationship with his engineers and mechanics, giving us the clear justification for promoting him to Formula One.”
Giedo van der Garde in the Caterham in 2012 – Photo: Caterham F1
Van der Garde will team-up with Charles Pic and Abiteboul said, “This is the next natural step for Giedo with our team. We continue to grow as a team and we are committed to giving young talent across the motorsport industry the chance to grow with us and this is Giedo’s opportunity to show he deserves his place at the very highest level of global motorsport. He and Charles have been team-mates before so he is an excellent choice to partner Charles in what is going to be another very interesting season, and we are all looking forward to seeing Giedo continue to progress as he takes on the ultimate challenge of Formula One.”
Van der Garde was of course elated to finally have made it into the pinnacle of motorsports, Formula One, “I am absolutely delighted to confirm that I will be racing in the 2013 Formula One World Championship with Caterham F1 Team. I want to thank Cyril, Tony Fernandes, McGregor and everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen.”
The 27-year old driver reckons he is ready for it, “I know I am ready to take the step up to Formula One and all the work I have done throughout my career, and particularly in the last year with this team, has brought me to my ultimate goal.”
About his role in 2012 he commented, “Throughout 2012 I was able to fully integrate myself into the team, both through the FP1 sessions I ran at a number of tracks that were then new to me, and as reserve driver, fully embedded with the team throughout the season.”
“Now I can continue to learn at the highest level of motorsport and show that I am ready for F1. I cannot wait to start work.”
By Berthold Bouman
The annual Formula One Young Driver Test is more and more becoming a farce as smaller teams use the programme as a means to generate revenues, while other teams test parts instead of drivers. McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh said in Abu Dhabi, “With the limitation on track testing, all teams play a different game. A lot of the small teams use young driver testing for revenue and a team like ours uses it largely for a range of technical developments.”
And he added without shame, “I’d be disappointed if we come out of that without arriving in Texas with something we can put on the car or some better understanding that makes us quicker.” Which of course means McLaren is also testing parts and not young promising drivers, and ‘tested’ 30-year old Gary Paffett again, the Briton has been involved in McLaren’s Young Driver Test for the fifth consecutive year.
Teams couldn’t even agree on the date of this year’s Young Driver Test, as HRT, Williams and Marussia already had their Young Driver Test after the British Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in July, while Mercedes, Ferrari and Force India had their test days at Magny Cours in September, and the remaining teams opted for Abu Dhabi.
In July Whitmarsh said, “Sadly in Formula One, while we all know it is important to develop young drivers, every team has different motivations. The original concept was that at the end of the season, we should do a Young Driver Test and we felt we should try to stick to that original concept.”
Marussia’s Graeme Lowdon said in Silverstone testing at Abu Dhabi would have been too demanding for his personnel. “We have no problem at all with Yas, the facilities are excellent, all the teams love going there, the circuit is great and the timing is good in that it is near the end of the season, but there is no way we could schedule staff and component turnaround to work on what is basically a five-week continuous stint. For it to be held then, meant it didn’t work for our logistics,” said Lowden.
William’s Mark Gillan had another excuse why his team wanted to test at Silverstone. “When we have a young driver with the talent, professionalism and promise of Valtteri Bottas, an in-season Young Driver Test makes a lot more sense for us rather than at the end of the season,” he said. “We run him on a Friday already and any further exposure we can give him to the car can only help us — and him as well — so it works better.”
Finnish driver Bottas has shown time after time he is faster than both current Williams drivers Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado, and one might wonder what the point of Williams’ young driver programme is if they once again ‘hire’ paying drivers Maldonado and Senna, and not the very talented Bottas, who doesn’t have big sponsors to back him.
But that is the way it works these days, was the comment of Liuz Razia yesterday, after he finished testing for Toro Rosso. “You have to have money backing you at the start of your career; obviously when you achieve success in Formula One probably you can get that back, but I’m quite comfortable with that. I’m pleased with my results and I think that I will be here because of a combination of the package,” he said to ESPN.
Last year Dani Clos, Fabio Leimer and Stefano Coletti admitted they had to pay for their Young Driver Test, since then only Clos has been in the HRT car during the first free practice session on Friday morning several times this season and is a serious candidate for a race seat, but others even haven’t accumulated enough mileage to get the FIA super-license they need to participate in an official Grand Prix event.
Yesterday Dutchman Giedo van der Garde tested aerodynamic parts, as he was driving around with a so-called transition vortex rake mounted on the Caterham to check the airflow of the front wing. Antonio Felix da Costa was doing the same for Red Bull, while other Dutchman Robin Frijns was testing a new rear wing for Sauber.
Of course, testing parts is not within the spirits of the Young Driver Test, nor is paying for a test-drive, perhaps the FIA should tighten the regulations and prohibit testing of new parts altogether, so the Young Driver Test becomes the Young Driver Test again.
By Berthold Bouman
Mixed results for Caterham today at the Abu Dhabi Yas Marina circuit, a bad day at the office for Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, who had to sit out his stint in the Caterham during the morning session. When he went out for his usual installation lap, he encountered electronic problems, returned to the garage and was sidelined for the rest of the session.
“Obviously that was a pretty frustrating session, but these things sometimes happen. As soon as I went out on the installation lap I could hear that the engine sounded different to my previous FP1 runs and from what I understand the problem looks like it’s to do with the electronic boxes or the looms,” said van der Garde. Fortunately the 27-year old Dutchman will have another two days in the Caterham during next week’s Young Driver Test, also at the Abu Dhabi circuit.
For Heikki Kovalainen things went smooth during both Friday sessions. “In the first session we ran a number of the new parts we brought here and then did comparison runs in FP2, as well as trying the soft tyres on a performance run, and a longer stint at the end of the session,” said the Finn.
And he further explained, “The key to unlocking the potential of the upgrades is finding the right set-up and with the amount of laps we ran over both FP1 and FP2 today we’ve generated enough data to give us a good chance to find something we can work with tomorrow.” Which means the Caterham engineers will be sifting through the car data all night, and hopefully find a good set-up for tomorrow’s qualifying.
Vitaly Petrov was happy the Caterham mechanics found the problem van der Garde encountered in the morning, and he was able to do three runs this afternoon. “It was all sorted out by the start of FP2 so we could get on with the program immediately. On my first run we had a few handling issues to sort out so we made some mechanical changes and saw an immediate improvement on the second run,” said Petrov.
And he added, “By the time we put on the soft tyres the times were getting quicker with every lap and I think we found a balance that’s working for us around here.”
Kovalainen was 19th in FP1 and 20th in FP2, while Petrov was 19th in FP2.