Kovalainen ‘a winner’, Fisi ‘steady’ – Renault

Wed, 5 September 2007, 07:08

Renault’s two technical chiefs have offered strong praise for Heikki Kovalainen, raising the prospects that the rookie Finn will be given a new contract for 2008.

With the French team expected to unveil next year’s driver lineup at Monza this weekend, 25-year-old Kovalainen admitted two weeks ago that he had not yet been guaranteed his seat beyond the end of 2007.

He had a shaky start to his rookie season earlier this year but in recent races has got on terms with experienced teammate Giancarlo Fisichella, whose own future at Renault is also not yet assured.

The Spanish newspaper Diario As late last month, however, reported that Kovalainen was likely to race alongside current test driver Nelson Piquet Jr in 2008.

Renault technical director Bob Bell said in the team’s official pre-Monza podcast this week that Kovalainen is “really coming on strongly now” after twelve career grands prix.

“I think that as we have improved the performance of the car he has been able to exploit it and really show his true colours. He has been getting stronger and stronger, more and more confident — he is a race winner,” Bell said.

Asked about Kovalainen’s veteran teammate Fisichella, meanwhile, engineering director Pat Symonds commented: “Well, still good, steady performances; I think as Bob said, Heikki is just coming on in leaps and bounds, he’s got his confidence now.

“Giancarlo is doing a very solid job as well.”

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