In an act of quite unbelievable honesty, the likes that Formula One rarely sees (and probably promotes that statement above the necessary because of it) Heikki Kovalainen has laid the blame for his lack of winning at Silverstone on his own shoulders. Speaking after the rain-sodden grand prix, Kovalainen said that his rear tyres were causing him trouble during the race and prevented him from keeping pace with Lewis Hamilton. But the reason for his tyre troubles he has put down to his own driving style.
Now I don’t think Heikki could have matched Hamilton’s pace yesterday even if his tyres were in great condition – let’s face it, Hamilton put in quite a performance in front of his home crowds. And it should also be noted that Lewis is usually the driver who gets called up about tyre preservation, or indeed the lack thereof. However, Kovalainen’s problems were, according to the Finn himself, of his own doing.
I just struggled with my rear tyres all the way through the race, to be honest. They were going away and I was damaging them excessively. The car control became difficult and I had to slow down. This was the reason I couldn’t keep up.
It looks like in the low grip conditions I put more load on the tyres. We saw that a little bit in Canada, where I had more tyre wear compared to Lewis again. In the rain when the grip is lower I put a little more load on the rear tyres. It’s probably something I need to look.
Perhaps we can look a bit at the set-up. But I think I can improve that area myself as well. Heikki Kovalainen.
Heikki said he was disappointed about his result but also said that he has taken many positives out of the weekend and is looking forward to Hockenheim in a fortnight. However, his honesty at Silverstone is impressive, or at least it is to me. Often when a driver makes a mistake, they will try to pass the blame, to save face, to get out of jail. However, privately they know the real reason, and in Formula One, so will the engineers – telemetry is a very telling thing.
Heikki could have spouted out some PR-friendly/no-one-is-to-blame answer and scurried away. But instead he chose to be honest and hold his hand up. Much like when David Coulthard returned from the gravel trap yesterday; the Scot knew it was his fault and decided to be honest and move on. Coulthard is ten years Heikki’s senior and 211 races further up the road though; he’s been there and done that already.
So why have I bothered to mention this? After all, it is a seemingly small and insignificant thing to write about. But I like to talk about some of the incidents that bring the sport back down to a human level, that show humility and emotion. Formula One is often robotic and business-like. In fact, Formula One is mostly a business, and the drivers are very often criticised for being little more than machines. But to hear a driver say he needs to improve in a few areas, but not in an apologetic getting out of trouble with the boss way, in a sincere and self-concious way, it’s nice. It raises Heikki’s reputation in my mind. Yes, he messed up, but at least he can hold his hand up and say so.