Kovalainen not nervous for McLaren debut

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Vodafone McLaren Mercedes new driver line-up for the 2008 season, Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen, will make their race debut as teammates in Australia next weekend. For Heikki, it will his first GP at the wheel of a McLaren car.

Heikki Kovalainen What are your thoughts ahead of your debut race with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team?

“I am looking forward to my first race with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, I think I have prepared well and I hope I can have a better start to the season than last year. This is my target, but I am aware that I still need to learn many things, I am still in a learning process with the team and I know there are things I need to improve. But I believe I have a solid base and we are ready to get out there and start the season.”

And what are your aims for this season?

“At the moment for me the focus is just on the first race and trying to start it better than last year. Hopefully we can finish the race and have a good start to build on. Then later on in the year, trying to improve the performance all the time. To be honest, for me it is better not to think too much about anything but the first race”

Are there any specific challenges in racing for a new team for the first time?

“No, I think the most important thing is to stay calm, keep your head cool and don’t let anything disturb you. There will be a lot of attention because it is a new team for me, but I will just keep focusing on the job with the engineers and mechanics.”

You have spent 18 test days in the MP4-23, how have you seen it develop in this time?

“I knew that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes always developed the car well before and during the season, but it is very easy to feel the changes we have made to the car between the first and last test day. We have improved the MP4-23 reasonably well and I hope this strength continues throughout the season, with the car getting better all the time. We have been able to put more grip in the car, make it more drivable, the whole package is moving forward all the time.”