Kovalainen cleared for Turkish GP

McLaren recieve a much needed boost as they look to take the fight to Ferrari.

    Heikki Kovalainen has recovered after
    his crash in Spain [GALLO/GETTY]
    Heikki Kovalainen has been cleared by doctors to race in the Turkish Grand Prix, giving McLaren a boost as it aims to snap Ferrari's three-race win streak.

    The 26-year-old Finn was given a go-ahead for Sunday's race after undergoing medical checks by governing body FIA, following his violent crash at the preceding Spanish GP.

    A wheel rim failure caused a tire on Kovalainen's car to explode and send him barrelling into a wall at high speed.

    The crash left him in a hospital overnight with slight injuries, including a concussion.

    "I arrived here today feeling confident that I would pass the FIA test as I feel 100 percent,'' Kovalainen said.

    "If I had not felt 100 percent I would have told the team already and stayed at home.''

    Test driver Pedro de la Rosa would likely have filled Kovalainen's seat if he had been found unfit to race.

    Ferrari favouritism

    Ferrari is still the favorite at the Istanbul Speed Park circuit, where its drivers have won all three races.

    Current world champion Kimi Raikkonen, coming off his second victory of the season at Barcelona, won the inaugural Turkish GP when he was with McLaren three years ago.

    Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa has won both since.

    Raikkonen has 29 points for a nine-point advantage over McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in the overall championship standings.

    Robert Kubica of BMW Sauber is third with 19, one more than Massa.

    Raikkonen is approaching the race with cautious optimism after the Italian team's consecutive 1-2 sweeps.

    "I won't change my approach. It's too early to think about anything else than a victory,'' Raikkonen said.

    "The (track) at Istanbul is very similar to the one at Sepang and Sakhir, where we (won). That makes us think that we'll be competitive over the weekend.''

    Ferrari's car will be without the new nose used in Barcelona. Most teams are making changes to setups coming to Turkey, which has been moved from its previous late summer date, forcing teams to adjust for moderate temperatures rather than the intense humidity of past years.

    BMW Sauber confident

    BMW Sauber is looking to return to the podium after missing out in Spain, but is in the thick of both the drivers and constructors races after finish second once and third twice this season.

    It already views itself as equal to McLaren.

    "It's so close, the slightest modification could swing the pendulum either way,'' technical director Willy Rampf said.

    Ferrari leads the constructors' championship with 47 points, BMW Sauber is
    next with 35 and McLaren has 34.

    After two GPs where much of the paddock gossip was about FIA president Max Mosley's sex scandal, this week's pitlane talking point will be the withdrawal of the Super Aguri team from the championship.

    The Japanese team withdrew on Tuesday, leaving F1 with 10 teams for the first time since 2005.

    "It was inevitable unless the team could find a way to stand alone by itself in the future,'' said Honda, which had been supplying Super Aguri with engines and technical know-how, but would not put forth any more funding.

    Super Aguri scored zero points through four races this season and had four career points, all won by driver Takuma Sato last season, from 41 Grand Prix races.

    Record for Barichello

    Rubens Barichello of Honda will become the most experienced racer in F1 history at Istanbul when the Brazilian lines up for his 257th career GP.

    The 35-year-old Barichello will pass Riccardo Patrese's 256 races, which was set in 1993, the same year Barichello first raced.

    "(This) means a great deal to me,'' said Barichello, who has nine wins and 61 podiums.

    "I still feel young on that side. I think I have many more years left.''

    The Brazilian will be looking for a top-eight finish and points after teammate Jenson Button placed sixth in Spain for the team's first three points of the season.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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