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Humble Heikki Blames Himself For British Grand Prix Blunder

Humble Heikki Blames Himself For British Grand Prix Blunder

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.

Oliver White

7 comments

  • Oliver,

    Great article and again very insightful!

    I think this is a very important matter at this moment. Both driver works on a different polar of driving style and this explain why Lewis was damaged his front tyres in Turkey and how Heikky could manager the situation in a better way. But the difference is that Lewis faced a problem and his answer was in a different level than Heikky tomorrow.

    As a Mclaren fan I´m still waiting for Heikky´s improvement through the season, mainly in race pace, and I know that this kind of honesty is a great way of how to find a solution for his problem with the rear tyres.

  • Obrigado para o elogio.
    Thanks for the compliment, Becken.

    I´m still waiting for Heikky´s improvement through the season

    I too am waiting for Heikki to show the pace he had pre-2007. I thought he was starting to find his feet again towards the end of 2007 when he came back and eventually knocked Fisichella off his chair, but perhaps changing teams didn’t help his momentum.

  • I find myself being more impressed with Heikki Kovalainen. (I just love that last name, wonderful phonic).

    He seems like a terrific bloke with great talent that I think McLaren will unlock. He’s got that sportsmanlike, gentlemanlike approach that I’ve favoured over the years: Damon, DC, that sort of thing.

    As you say, Ollie, it’s unusual and nice to see. Perhaps the Age of the Gentleman is returning after the decade of robotic Schumacher-ism…

  • I hope characters like Heikki will start showing up more and more in the sport as I’m pretty sure as much as sponsors may rule F1, it’s the human aspect that attracts the general fan. The problem with Formula One these days is many of the drivers are groomed to be a top star at a very early age. The days of a guy like Nigel Mansel selling half of his belongings to afford to race later on in his life are gone. Drivers are now picked up in their early teen years and groomed by major teams (McLaren/Hamilton being the perfect example). This usually results in young men already trained to deal with sponsors, keep their answers to questions very PC, and lack the personality of previous decades of greats.

    As far as Heikki improving, I think people need to remember this is his first year at a new team. Just like Alonso last year, he is not going to be comfortable with the car right away. Does anyone else remember how bad Kimi Raikkonen looked at Ferrari during the first half of last year? He ended up getting used to the various new tendencies of his new car and turned everything around to win the world title. Obviously it’s a stretch to say this will happen for Heikki, but considering his teammate has been a project of McLaren for years, he’s gotta be cut a bit of slack by comparison.

  • Unfortunately blaming something that can’t take blame is professional sports. It is great to hear his honesty, but too much admitting of mistakes could ruin his career.

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