McLaren fans have today been asking: "If Lewis was so quick, what was wrong with Kovalainen's car?" The answer lies in the tyres that his MP4-23 was using. McLaren revealed that in the opening stint of the Chinese Grand Prix Kovy had “mismatched tyres” fitted prior to the race.
We saw smoke coming from Heikki's car as the lights were going out at the start of the race, many assumed this was down to his brakes, and in a round-about way it was.
The Finnish driver was easily out-paced by the Renault of Fernando Alonso, which, on paper isn't as quick as the McLaren. Once the Spaniard was past the gap between the two got extended at a very rapid rate.
Speaking of his troubles and his plans for the season's final race in Brazil, "I made a good start, got past Fernando and almost got alongside Felipe [Massa]," Kovalainen said.
“Fernando managed to repass me before turn 14 and I settled down in fifth.
“I had a lot of under-steer during my first stint and tried to improve things during the first stop by raising the front wing angle. Later, I was still running in the points when I had a puncture early on in the lap – it cost me a lot of time driving slowly back to the pits and I knew it would be an uphill struggle for the rest of the race.
“In the closing stages, I had a problem with the pneumatic system so the team called me in as a precautionary measure."
“We still have a chance to win the constructors’ championship in Brazil, so I’ll definitely be going for it in Sao Paulo."
Team boss Ron Dennis said, "After his first stop, a punctured tyre then forced an unscheduled pit stop before an air pressure problem with his engine caused us to retire him in order to avoid risking an engine failure."
A failed engine would have meant the Fin' would have had to make an unauthorized engine change and face a ten-place grid drop in Brazil.