Heikki Kovalainen seeks changes to unbalanced CT03 after F1 return in Bahrain
Experienced Finn made his comeback in Practice One at Bahrain
By Pete Gill and Mike Wise in Manama. Last Updated: 19/04/13 2:27pm
Heikki made his F1 comeback on Friday morning
Heikki Kovalainen has identified the rear of Caterham CT03 as the area of principal weakness in the team's package.
After six months on the sidelines, the Finn made his F1 comeback on Friday when he replaced Giedo van der Garde during first practice at Bahrain. The experienced former grand prix victor has been rehired by the Caterham outfit in what is, for the time being at least, strictly a development role only as they strive to transform their troublesome charger into a competitive beast.
Easier said than done, though. According to Kovalainen, there is plenty of work to be done if the team are to dial out the inconsistency which has plagued rookie Van der Garde and team-mate Charles Pic so far in 2013.
"I think it's quite different to last year's," Heikki reported of the CT03 after his first run in the car. "Fundamentally it's the same, obviously tyres and set-up has changed. It's quite a different feeling. If I was racing, I would start looking to make changes straight away to get it more how I think it should be.
"It's more unbalanced than I experienced last year. It's more difficult to nail a good lap. I think in qualifying, when the tyres are fresh, the car is a bit more average. But to a certain extent it's not a surprise because of the way the car has been modified.
"In terms of the differences, there's a direction. But with the tyres that we have now, I'm not convinced it's the right way to go. Maybe we should reconsider the set-up direction."
Yet Kovalainen - who finished P2 in 20th, six-tenths of a second behind Pic - is under no illusions that set-up tweaks will be sufficient improvement for a car which has fallen adrift of the Marussia at the back of the grid.
"I think part of it is solvable with set-up, but when we improve the car and bring upgrades, there's one area we really need to improve and that's the back end of the car," concluded the 31-year-old.
Kovalainen will return to driver duties for Caterham in Practice One at Spain when a raft of upgrades are expected to be introduced by the team.