Monaco GP preview: Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes, Istanbul, 2008, 470150

Heikki Kovalainen must be an early candidate for ‘unluckiest driver of the year’. OK, he’s not had Sebastian Vettel’s Series of Unfortunate Events, but he has had some rotten fortune:

Australia – Strategy ruined by safety car
Malaysia – Docked five places on grid
Spain – Crashed heavily after car failure
Turkey – Suffered puncture on first lap

That’s left him 21 points adrift of Kimi Raikkonen in the championship. Can he shrug off his misfortune this weekend and mount a comeback?

Kovalainen won’t want a repeat of his 2005 Monaco experience. He was leading the GP2 race by miles when his team fumbled his pit stop, losing him the race. Last year he was baulked by David Coulthard during qualifying, started 15th, and was only able to make up two places by the chequered flag.

But bad luck doesn’t last forever and McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh made it quite clear that Kovalainen had the pace to win in Turkey.

His qualifying performance was especially impressive and a front row starting position at Monte-Carlo means the job of winning the race is half done. Beating Hamilton in qualifying again would also reduce the chance of his race being spoiled by the safety car.

What do you think Kovalainen can do in Monaco?

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8 comments on Monaco GP preview: Heikki Kovalainen

  1. James said on 19th May 2008, 16:32

    Almost certainly. He is not under the same pressure as Lewis (indeed, Lewis has attracted the negative pressure of expectation this year) and Turkey demonstrated that he’s quick. It will be interesting to see how Hamilton responds if Kovi starts pushing. Recent Finnish drivers (Hakkinen, Raikonnen specifically) just haven’t been psychologically affected by their teammates at all, and I’m curious to see how this will be managed in the Mclaren camp.

    To answer the question, I don’t think he’ll quite have the edge on Lewis at Monaco (I think it’ll be Hamilton and Kubica at the front) but I suspect he’ll take the Ferraris.

  2. Heikki seems to have the pace to win a race/races this year but I’m not sure it’ll be in Monaco. I expect Kimi and Lewis will be very strong and its hard to imagine Heikki outpacing them at one of the ultimate drivers circuits.

    That said, its the first time back in Monte Carlo without TC and engine breaking, so safety cars are pretty much guaranteed (just my opinion) so in reality, its totally wide open.

  3. Breaking? Possibly meant to say braking… :)

  4. Rabi said on 19th May 2008, 17:49

    plus if anyone makes an aggressive qualifying (short fueling the car) then the race really will be blown totally wide open!

  5. In Monaco who knows? and the weather forecast says it could well rain… For sure Heikki is quick and for sure he doesn’t care being compared to Lewis. But Monaco is special and some other driver might want to do something special there: I think certain spanish driver has a point to make.
    Raikkonen, Hamilton and Alonso are my favorites… For Heikki we could have to wait until Canada or USA… but I believe it won’t be (too) long.

  6. I don’t think we have seen exactly what Kovi is capable of yet. There have been flashes of it – Turkey springs to mind – and I fully expect him to win race(s) this year as he just gets better and better.

    I am just not sure that Monaco is the place that he will do it.

    But it is Monaco, and anything can – and probably will -happen. My money is still on Alonso.

  7. the limit said on 20th May 2008, 4:00

    In Turkey, the surprise for me was Kovalainen’s second place on the grid in qualifying. That really impressed me after his huge shunt in Spain, and really highlighted his talent in beating Lewis Hamilton in a straight fight.
    With qualifying at Monaco traditionally one of the most important of the season, I am fascinated by how the two McLaren drivers will perform. Everybody is going to be focused on Lewis, the pressure is really going to be on him almost as much as the two Ferrari drivers, so I have a niggling suspicion that Kovalainen may, just may pull off an upset.
    What is most important for him, is a good, clean race.
    His luck this year has been horrible, it is as if Raikkonen has given him all his bad luck from the old McLaren days. Everytime something goes wrong, it tends to be with Heikki’s car.
    He needs a solid points finish, a podium would be a fantastic feather in his cap. If he shows the same speed he did in Turkey, and lady luck shines on him, he may just spoil everybody’s party.
    Good luck Heikki!

  8. theRoswellite said on 20th May 2008, 5:11

    If you believe, as I do, that no one possesses bad luck, that the rules of probability demand variations from the mean, then the key element is a drivers real talent.

    If Heikki can qualify on the front row, a very difficult task, he will have a good opportunity to win, and hopefully his “bad luck” will take the weekend off.

    PS: And, considering the horrific impact of his accident in Spain, with the absence of any significant injuries, perhaps we should not consider him too star crossed.

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