Fire stops Kovalainen (Lotus race review)

Lotus were responsible for one of the most dramatic moments of the race when Heikki Kovalainen’s car caught fire. He said stopping it on the start/finish straight instead of the pit lane was the safest thing to do.

Jarno Trulli Heikki Kovalainen
Qualifying position 21 19
Qualifying time comparison (Q1) 1’51.641 (+0.726) 1’50.915
Race position 16
Average race lap 2’15.195 (+16.101) 1’59.095
Laps 27/61 58/61
Pit stops 3 2

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Jarno Trulli

Trulli had a dreadful weekend in Singapore last year and this year was little different. Mike Gascoyne acknowledged it was not one of his driver’s favourite circuits.

A puncture forced an early pit stops and hydraulic problems ended his race.

Compare Jarno Trulli’s form against his team mate in 2010

Heikki Kovalainen

Kovalainen was running 12th towards the end of the race which is higher than Lotus have finished this year. But he wasn’t able to hold off the recovering Michael Schumacher or Sebastien Buemi.

The Toro Rosso driver made contact on his way past, causing the damage that led to Kovalainen’s spectacular fire:

We were looking good for 15th, but then I had a coming together with Buemi towards the end of the race. I spun the car to get back onto the track which I think cracked the fuel tank pressure release valve and it looks like that caused an airbox fire.

I didn?t want to come into the pits as it definitely wasn?t safe enough to do so, and pulled over on the main straight. A couple of guys from Williams gave me an extinguisher, so I put the fire out on my own ?ǣ I told Tony and Mike that they maybe need to pay me more as I?m now a fireman as well.
Heikki Kovalainen

Compare Heikki Kovalainen’s form against his team mate in 2010

2010 Singapore Grand Prix

Browse all 2010 Singapore Grand Prix articles

Image ?? Singapore GP

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19 comments on Fire stops Kovalainen (Lotus race review)

  1. ” I told Tony and Mike that they maybe need to pay me more as I’m now a fireman as well.”

    Cheeky. I guess Heikki doesn’t now how little a fireman is paid (if he is indeed paid)

  2. macahan said on 27th September 2010, 15:41

    I absolutely loved how calm and composed he was.. Just coasting to a stop, getting out of the car in a calm manner. Going over to the pit wall just few steps away asking for a extinguisher then going over to the car putting the fire out. No rush anywhere in sight. Just calm and collected. I thought the commentators on SpeedTV was going to have a heart attack urging him to hurry to get out of the car and get away from it.

    If you wouldn’t know better you could have believed he had practiced this very thing and it was entirely planned. Absolutely brilliant done.

    Guess we have a new “iceman” in F1. ;)

    But I guess after racing on a course like that at those speeds a little fire like that don’t get the adrenaline pumping that much..

  3. Heikki’s fire was the best highlight of the year from the new teams!

    He was so calm there, trying to find an extinguisher, then slowly stepping out of the car and putting the fire out!

    Lovely! You made me smile, Heikki!

  4. “I didn’t want to come into the pits as it definitely wasn’t safe enough to do so”–HK
    Wuh? Is pitlane covered in corporate guests during races nowadays? I call balderdash on this one, he was trying to get that one more lap in to secure a higher classified position.
    A driver is always safer pulling into pitlane.

    [2nd posting edited to take out swears, as per F1F rules. Mods can delete this if they accept my first posting.]

    • Kodongo said on 27th September 2010, 21:26

      You mean the pit lane where there are a dozen sets of mechanics plus team personnel? You must be joking. Heikki did the right thing, to park it on the straight, out of immediate danger. If the worst came to worst, they could divert the racing cars through the pits under a safety car. Wide open pit straight versus confined pit lane is no contest. Luckily, Heikki had the calm in the heat (literally) of the moment to choose a safer option.

      • I agree – good calm thinking from Heikki, put it as close to a large number of fire extinguishers as possible but out of the way (the racing line is on the other side of the straight).

        And crossing the finish line for one more lap didn’t do any harm either ;)

        • But he would cross the finish line had he gone to the pits – the finish line is right at the beginning of the pits.

          • I think you might have to cross the extension of the Finish line if you complete your race in the pits, entering pit lane may stop the clocks but won’t count as another lap completed.

    • Heikki was worried about the risk of explosion he said. There was the pit wall and mechanics to think of. It was clear he would never make another lap

    • James_mc said on 28th September 2010, 14:32

      No, but the pit wall which is open to the pit lane has many team members in non-fire retardant overalls

      • This is my point exactly. If you drive into pit lane at the start (and end) there are plenty of marshals, fire fighting gear, and team personnel who can run down pitlane with fire fighting equipment.

  5. I always knew Kovalainen was the hottest F1 driver (pun intended).

  6. Are you joking James H?

    He kept the fire on the other side of the wall where there were no people and THEN extinguished the fire himself AFTER racing two hours in G-forces that exceed what fighter pilots have to endure…..yeah,what a terrible decisision.As far as I’m concerned,Heikki is smart and brave!Finnish drivers are so cool.

    • I’m not saying it was a heroic act or not. I just think the notion that pit lane is a dangerous place for a car on fire is silly. And I don’t think on pit straight was less dangerous. And I think Heikki knows all this, he was simply trying to hustle another lap out of the car, maybe snatch an extra classified place or 2.

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