Heiki Focuses On The Present

Four years ago, the week before the Hungarian Grand Prix was the week before Heiki Kovalainen claimed his first, and so far only, F1 victory. An engine failure for the leading Felipe Massa allowed a trailing Kovalainen to stand on the podium’s top step and become F1’s 100th race winner. Fast forward to now and the Finn finds himself as one of a number of drivers with a contract which expires at the end of the season.

Kovalainen achieved one win compared to Lewis Hamilton’s five in the same car in 2008

Ailing performances in his 2008 and 2009 years left McLaren looking to replace him, and it was with a move to the newly-formed Lotus, now Caterham, that he started the 2010 season. It was a backwards move in every sense but it was the only option. At the Norfolk-based team, he has put his head down and delivered. Consistently out-racing his previous team-mate, the veteran Jarno Trulli, certainly has helped raise a stock which was in some decline after his McLaren tenure. He has been leading the team forward since their formation and it has been a rebuilding process which has helped the Finn to re-establish himself as a driver capable of strong drives.
Many people who had a contract mere months from its end would be worried, but Kovalainen says it is now which is important as he continues further for solid results:

“What I’m focusing on is that I keep my performances as high as possible and aim to take the maximum from the car and the team,” said Kovalainen.

“That would put me in the best position in case Caterham has other plans for the future. I’ll try to show everyone, including my team, that I have what it takes to get the job done.”

He has shown well at Caterham against team-mates Trulli and Petrov

He has been linked with a move away from the team and though it would be a step forward, he says discussions have not taken place with any rival teams:

“We haven’t seriously talked to anyone so I don’t know what they think but the team bosses ranked me ninth in their top ten list last season, which was very good and shows that they are paying attention.”

Though he did admit that part of the reason for his performances has been due to knowing the workings of the team, he did conclude that he wants to be racing for higher positions than Caterham currently duel for:

“Next year, I want to be fighting for better positions and I want to be as high up the grid as possible,” he said when asked about the need for improved results by AUTOSPORT. “But I haven’t really talked to Caterham about what the plans are.

“At some point we will sit down and see what the plans are, how things are looking and what their interest level is. They may have other [driver] plans, I don’t know.

“Overall, I have been happy about the time that I’ve had here. One of the reasons why I’m regularly getting the best out of myself and the car is because I have a good relationship with the team and I am working better. What happens in the future, I don’t know.”

He has already had two years at a top team in McLaren where he largely under-performed given his good debut year at Renault, but it may have been a case of too much, too soon for the happy Finn who appears to be a more capable package in 2012.


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