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Caterham got their 2012 season back on track as Heikki Kovalainen secured a brilliant 13th finish in Monaco to return the Hingham outfit to Formula One’s top 10.

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Kovalainen worked his way up the field early on and then held off an increasingly frustrated McLaren of Jenson Button, as the Finn topped Marussia’s 14th finish in Australia to break into the constructors’ championship top 10 – where the Norfolk marque has finished in its two seasons to date.

A few prangs hindered Vitaly Petrov’s progress and an electrical failure eventually ended his race on lap 16, but in truth the day was all about his team-mate.

“That was one of the most tense but most exciting races we have had since we came into the sport,” said team principal Tony Fernandes.

“When Heikki passed Jenson out of the pits, that was definitely the most exciting moment in my Formula One career and something that I will remember for ever.

“Heikki put in one of the best drives we have seen from him since we started back in Bahrain 2010 and it gives us a very good platform to work from for the rest of the season.

“I am also extremely proud of how the whole team worked today. The people back at the factory have never stopped working as hard as they can to give the drivers a car that they can use like they did this weekend, and the team on track were magnificent.

“I am an optimist and our pit wall is full of people who would call themselves realists – I would probably say they are pessimists – but after today I have never seen so many pessimists so optimistic about the future. A great day for sure.”

Kovalainen now leads F1’s pointless six drivers in 19th, while Petrov has places to make up in 23rd.

“That was a great and I’m delighted we’ve got 10th back and recorded our highest finish of the season,” said Kovalainen. “Despite that I think we could have had even more, but the rain came at just the wrong moment for us.

“However – this is a really good day for the team, and it’s great to get back to the garage and see everyone in such good spirits.

“This type of track was always going to give us the chance to fight…we have more to come from this car throughout the season, so I think we have more races like this to look forward to, and results like today make all the hard work the whole team put in worth it.”

Technical director Mark Smith added: “Had Perez not hit Heikki and caused his front wing failure I am sure he would have retained that place – he was clearly in a very determined mood and driving to the level everyone knows he can.

“I am delighted for him and the whole team. This has been a strong weekend for us and one that gives us even more impetus to keep challenging as we head to Canada and the rest of the season.”

Montreal hosts round seven of the 20-race championship on June 10.

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