Kovalainen believes Caterham need to change direction

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Heikki Kovalainen has said that Caterham should consider changing the design direction they are taking with the CT03 car after competing in FP1 for the team today in Bahrain.

Kovalainen has re-joined his old team to do some testing work, being in the perfect position to compare the CT03 car to its 2012 predecessor after racing for Caterham from 2010 until last season.

“I think it’s quite different to last year’s car,” Kovalainen said in an interview.

“Fundamentally it’s the same, obviously tires and set-up has changed. It’s quite a different feeling.”

The Finnish driver made clear that he thought the team needed to make several changes to the 2013 car, which is largely based upon last year’s edition due to the lack of changes to the regulations.

“If I was racing, I would start looking to make changes straight away to get it more how I think it should be.

“It’s more unbalanced than I experienced last year. It’s more difficult to nail a good lap. I think in qualifying, when the tires are fresh, the car is a bit more average. But to a certain extent it’s not a surprise because of the way the car has been modified.”

Kovalainen also suggested that the new tires had made the car more difficult to drive, warranting the change in design and development.

“In terms of the differences, there’s a direction. But with the tires that we have now, I’m not convinced it’s the right way to go.

“Maybe we should reconsider the set-up direction.”

Although Kovalainen may not currently have the financial backing to race full-time with Caterham, but he is in a perfect position to help the team develop their car with six seasons of grand prix experience under his belt. The one-time race winner will also be partaking in free practice at the Spanish Grand Prix next month for Caterham.

MORE: Watch FP2, qualifying and the Bahrain Grand Prix online or on your phone or tablet

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.