November 24th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Heikki Kovalainen was disappointed to finish out of the points in his two races standing in for Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus. In Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, Kovalainen finished 14th after starting 11th on the grid.
Going into the final round of the season in Brazil, Lotus had a small chance of beating Mercedes to second place in the Constructors' Championship. There was also a much more realistic chance of challenging Ferrari for third place. But challening either Mercedes or Ferrari required both Lotus drivers to have competitive races, and unfofrunately that did not happen for either of them.
Romain Grosjean's race was over after just a couple of laps, as the Renault V8 engine in his Lotus failed in quite spectacular fashion, spewing thick clouds of white smoke out of the car's exhausts.
Kovalainen made it to the end of the race, but simply lacked the performance to fight for points. The Finn's troubles started at the beginning of the race, when he was slow off the line, to the extent that some cars behind him had to take evasive action to avoid running into the back of his Lotus.
By the end of the first lap, Kovalainen was running 18th, having lost seven positions on the opening lap. From then on, his race was a salvage operation, and one that did not go as well as Kovalainen or Lotus would have liked.
At points in the race, Kovalainen showed controlled aggression on the track, making decisive overtaking moves as he attempted to move through the field. But ultimately his race did not come together and he finished a lap down and over 13 seconds outside the points.
Kovalainen commented after the Brazilian Grand Prix:
“It has been a great opportunity to drive for Lotus F1 Team and I’m upset that I was not able to score any points for them today. I think the car is great, but I was not able to unlock the pace and make the most of it. I made some mistakes – probably through lack of routine – but I was anticipating it would be easier to come back and race competitively.
"My starts both here and in Austin were really poor, with procedural issues both times meaning I wasn’t able to keep pace with everyone off the line. That was disappointing as it’s such a big part of the race and it’s very difficult to recover positions. I’d like to thank everyone at Lotus F1 Team for all their support during these two races.”
Grosjean was disappointed to be out of the race almost before it began, but was able to see the lighter side of his engine failure:
“At this point in the season I think everyone needs a holiday, but apparently my engine decided to go on vacation early!
"Of course, that’s not the way we wanted to end the year but it’s been a fantastic season for the team and I think we can be really proud of what we’ve achieved together. We’ve proven this year that we are a top team, and I’m certainly proud of all the guys in the garage and back at Enstone.
"Today was obviously disappointing for everyone as they deserved more from this final race after all their hard work, but now it’s time to get a little bit of rest and then focus on making sure we head into 2014 and the new regulations as one of the top teams once again.”
Lotus finished the 2013 season fourth in the Constructors Championship behind Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari, and well ahead of McLaren in fifth place. Kimi Raikkonen finished the Drivers' Championship fifth, with Romain Grosjean seventh and Heikki Kovalainen 21st after taking part in just two races and scoring no points.