Kovalainen seeks seat with big team and open to McLaren return

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren MP4/23 crosses the line to win the race. Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday 3 August 2008.  BEST IMAGEAug.8 (GMM) Heikki Kovalainen believes he is ready to return to a top team, perhaps even former employer McLaren.

After a difficult debut season at Renault in 2007 in the wake of Fernando Alonso’s departure, the now 30-year-old Finn endured an even tougher two-year tenure at McLaren – again in Spaniard Alonso’s wake.

He was forced to rebuild his reputation and polish his skills right at the back of the grid, but after three seasons with  2010 startup Caterham, Kovalainen is reportedly now open to leaving the Tony Fernandez led team and hoping to return to points-paying positions in 2013.

“My focus is on maximising my performance here at Caterham and giving my best to the team,” Kovalainen told the German website motorsport-total.com.

“That puts me in the best possible position in the market if I want to move teams,” he said. “But I don’t even know what Caterham’s plans are – maybe they don’t want me anymore.”

He insists that he is not in a rush to find out, but the paddock speculation is not waiting for him. The name most often connected with Kovalainen for 2013 is Sauber.

“It’s rumours and that’s all I can say,” Kovalainen said. “They [Sauber] seem to be very strong this year but that’s all I can say.”

What about McLaren? His former team has a theoretical vacancy for 2013 at present, with Lewis Hamilton’s new contract still not signed and sealed.

Or Ferrari, who are weighing up the candidates to replace struggling Felipe Massa?

“For me, being at McLaren was a dream come true,” he answered. “They are a great team, but of course so is Ferrari. Fernando is doing a great job and Massa is getting better.

“A top team, no question.”

When pressed on the topic of McLaren, Kovalainen admitted: “I can only say good things about them, although I experienced some good times and some bad times.

“But I know exactly what happened at that time, and what would happen if I got the chance in the future.

“I would have no problem [going back]. They are a great team and I am still in touch with lots of McLaren guys – I have a very good relationship with Martin Whitmarsh, for example.

“At the time, everything just did not fit together, but there were reasons. Since then, a lot has changed,” he noted.

Subbed by AJN.

  • Harsha

    I wish He pairs up with Button at Mclaren which would make the Team Perfect

  • Hawk

    McLaren is not an average team. So how can it have a pair of average drivers? It’s good you are not their advisor.

  • Phillip Bowen

    Hawk…. If Hamilton leaves then there will be no problem, will there!

  • Hawk

    definately McLaren would then have a problem. To put it in context, imagine if McLaren had Button and Heikki currently; from the way McLaren has been handling of late, do you think they would ever know the extent of how good/bad their car is? Everyone would write it off without having someone like Lewis to show them that much as the car is bad it can still fluke a race win. This would point them to exactly where improvement needs to be done. Likewise if Ferrari had a pairing of the likes of Massa, say with Rubens, they would have written off 2012 already! not knowing that car only needed a few tweaks to put it in a championship winning position and not to write it off completely when the engineers are doing a decent job.
    In the days of limited or non-existent testing you need drivers like Lewis and Alonso (Vettel am not sure yet) because in only two races they can show you exactly where your car is on the grid. This is because as exceptional drivers the “driver factor” remains a constant and you dwell on other variables like aero, rate of tyre degradation, car set-up, the weather, circuit design, etc. That is why personally I have a gut feeling the Lotus, Sauber, and Williams are quite good cars and on many occasions capable of rattling the big three, but I am not cock sure because of the driver variable!

  • Hawk

    Ofcourse McLaren would have a problem. In the absence of testing you need a driver of Lewis’ or Alonso’s calibre (Vettel am not sure yet) because in two races they will show you exactly where your car lies on the grid. To put it in context imagine if Ferrari had two Massas! they would have written of 2012 already! Likewise what if McLaren had two Buttons? They would be completely at sea on what is wrong with their car. For engineers to do an excellent job, the “driver factor” should remain a constant so that they concentrate on such variables like the weather, car set-up, tyre degradation, aero, circuit design, etc. But if you have an average driver you will not know how good/bad your car is. Personally I suspect the Lotus, Sauber and Williams are good cars but I cannot be cock sure. However, on the down side you might rest on your laurels thinking that your car has arrived, yet in actual fact the driver is just managing to hold off the likes of the Perez’, Pastors, “Kimis” in better cars!

  • Hawk

    Ofcourse McLaren will then have a big problem. Only then…

  • psych4191

    @Hawk, you’re an uneducated fool.

    Kovalainen isn’t “average”. Neither is Button. Heikki is an incredibly fast driver that climbed the ranks too quickly. Plus, there’s a reason Button was able to win last year in inclimate weather – he’s incredibly savvy about his driving.