Wing and KERS problems thwart Kovalainen on comeback

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Heikki Kovalainen failed to add to Lotus’s constructors’ championship tally on his comeback to F1 in place of the absent Kimi Raikkonen.

Kovalainen made a slow start to the race, losing four places from his starting position of eighth, then ran into technical problems with his E21 chassis.

“My start wasn’t great but then it was going okay until the first pit stop as I was racing with the pack with the car feeling quite good,” said Kovalainen.

“After the pit stop I started to have a few problems, but it was difficult to know exactly what was going on. We had issues with downforce so we changed the front wing and after that it was much better, although still not as good as it’s felt previously this weekend.

“There was a KERS issue too, though not enough to account for my lack of race pace.”

Kovalainen finished 15th on the road and was promoted one place by Esteban Gutierrez’s penalty.

He will drive for the team again this weekend in Brazil as they try to overcome their 18-point deficit to Ferrari for third place in the constructors’ championship in the final race of the year. Second place for Romain Grosjean and fifth for Fernando Alonso narrowed the gap between the two teams by eight points in Austin.

Montoya: ‘Hopefully I get a chance to do Indy again’ (VIDEO)

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Juan Pablo Montoya is on site at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, his latest trip in a summer and fall filled with a lot of international travel and a number of different race cars he’s been in.

Montoya is committed to a full season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Acura Team Penske in 2018, as he’ll share one of the team’s Acura ARX-05s with Dane Cameron.

However, the question of whether he’ll be able to race in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil remains.

Team Penske has said it plans to only run four cars next month of May, with Helio Castroneves as the fourth driver alongside the three full-time cars driven by Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power.

While Montoya has said elsewhere that he’s shopping offers and has talked with other teams, it’d be highly surprising to see the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion who developed the Chevrolet engine for IndyCar’s 2018 Dallara universal body kit in a Honda-powered IndyCar, although he is running Honda’s brand (Acura) in sports cars.

Montoya elaborated on his Indy 500 prospects in an interview with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton at the Circuit of The Americas.

“Not full-time no,” Montoya told NBCSN of his IndyCar 2018 prospects. “Hopefully I get a chance to go to Indy, hopefully with Penske, (and) if not someone else. We’ll see.”

Photo: IndyCar

Montoya has extolled the early testing both on the 2018 IndyCar and on the Acura ARX-05.

The first Acura chassis has run at Road Atlanta and Sebring International Raceway thus far, and will be put through its paces at other venues over the next few months.

“It’s been good. We did a lot of work with INDYCAR on that car. Fans are gonna like it,” Montoya said of the 2018 kit.

“Going to IMSA with the Acura program, we’ve done a lot of testing. It’s a beauty to drive. It drives better than what it looks! I haven’t had that much fun driving a race car in a long time.”

Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race car to be campaigned by Team Penske in 2018