Heikki Kovalainen

downforce

Race Winner
My 1st article on clip the apex

Do you think we will ever see Kovalainen at the sharp end of the grid again? He had much potential pre-McLaren.

He spent 9 years in karting and did relatively well winning the 2000 Nordic championship. He was Formula Renault 2001 rookie of the year. He was also British Formula 3 2002 rookie of the year finishing 3rd with 5 wins. He moved to world series by nissan in 2003 and won the championship in 2004 with 6 wins. In 2005 he moved to GP2 and battled Nico Rosberg for the championship finishing runner up with 5 wins.

He built a bit of a reputation for himself by winning the race of champions in 2004 defeating David Coulthard, Michael Schumacher and Sebastien Loeb.

He was also test driver for Renault 2004 - 2007 stacking up well over 28,000km so he certainly wasn't inexperienced by his debut either.

In his debut season in 2007 he beat his experienced race winner teammate by 9 points and claimed a debut podium with 2nd in an awesome Japanese Grand Prix.

Then of course it went downhill, he joined McLaren in 2008 and was humiliated by Lewis Hamilton over the course of the year which was a shame, he showed flashes of potential in the early part of the season but did not fulfill it. It has been said that the extreme development that year was focused entirely on Hamilton and it did not suit Kovalainen's driving style and that he may not have been entirely ready for that level of competition. Either way in a car that his teammate won the championship with he gained 3 podiums, 1 pole position and a sole win.

His 2009 season at McLaren was largely anonymous compared to what Hamilton was doing with the car although he looked to be on form for Monza qualifying 4th - the highest of the 1 stoppers and one of the only KERS cars. It was a real opportunity for him to save his career at the sharp end. Sadly he went backwards in the race very quickly and finished 6th.

In 2010 of course he moved to Lotus and strangely seems to have been reinvigorated and refreshed. No points of course being one of the new teams and no testing but he finished in the official standings ahead of veteran teammate Jarno Trulli. This year the team are leaving Virgin and HRT behind and snapping on the heals of the historical williams team. Lotus are looking soon to be amongst the lower field and Kovalainen looks to be really flourishing there. Indeed last weekend he claimed the teams best ever qualifying performance with their 1st q2 session and 15th on the grid.

Jarno Trulli is near the end of his F1 career but Kovalainen is only 29, do you think when Trulli has left Kovalainen may become a real team leader there? Indeed he could do a Schumacher (maybe not quite as successful but the same principle) and really make the team his own - spend the rest of his career with the team and really move it up the field towards the sharp end of the grid over the course of several years. Personally I'd love to see him spend the next decade with the team steadily improving both team and driver and continuity is an advantage in this sport.

what do you think the future holds for Heikki Kovalainen?

PS: apologies about the essay lol.
 

EvilWhippet

Podium Finisher
I think he needed to move down the grid, he found himself in one of the best teams in the world with the man who'd win the title that year and seemed to put alot of pressure on himself. Also I don't think that crash in Barcelona 08 did him any good.
 

MCLS

Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
I think Heikki already is the real team leader there. I can't see him moving to another team any time soon and he seems really happy there. Really he should never had gone to Mclaren, he was always going to be outclassed by Hamilton, which is nothing to be ashamed of really. We saw flashes at Mclaren like Practice/Qualifying at Silverstone 2008 where he was faster than Hamilton, (maybe with a dry race he would have won). While Heikki isn't championship winning material, he's certainly capable of pushing lotus up into a regular points finishing team
 

RasputinLives

Doesn't look a bit like Jesus
Contributor
I think Heiki got a tough lot at Mclaren. The team were very focused on Lewis and he was veyr much the number 2. I don't think he was disliked just not focused on.

If you think about it 53 points and a race victory in only his second season of F1 isn't exactly shabby - he's just unfourtunate that his team mate just happened to be Lewis Hamilton. The 09 Mclaren was a dog of a car and I don't think Heiki's motivation was helped by talk he was being kicked out the team right from the begining of the season.

I've been impressed with his attitude since joining Lotus and he's reminded me more of when he was driving the Renault. Think he's much happier being the underdog. Having said that I wouldn't be shocked if a team higher up the grid didn't offer him a contract because they know he's consistant. It won't happen but he'd be a perfect stop gap for Ferrari if they do get rid of Massa at the end of the year because he's not gonna threatern Alonso's number 1 status, he's experienced enough to help develop a car and he's consistant enough to bring in a steady flow of points for them.

He reminds me a little of Johnny Herbert in that he's not quite got the quality to lead a top team but he's just a little too good for teams further down the field. Also very likable - I know I'd be cheering him on if he hit the front this weekend!
 

Slyboogy

World Champion
Contributor
If you watch the 08 season again, you will find that he was very unlucky, especially in the first half of the season he was always on course for a podium or something then bham! puncture or something would come up. The second half of the season he was obviously there to help Hamilton think the same could be said for the first half, but at one point he scored more consistently than the top drivers, think it was the middle part to near the end of the season.

McLaren did kind of screw him up, by always making his strategy to be the heavier of the two, when he joined Lotus he came out saying "I know why I was slow at McLaren"

He's got potential, but going to McLaren in his second season was a wrong move as the team was totally focused on Lewis Hamilton after they lost Alonso in 2007.

As for 2009...just one of those seasons?
 
I was excited by the prospect of Heikki joining McLaren for 2008.

Heikki was regarded as being as fast as Alonso when he was testing for Renault in 2006...and got his race opportunity when Alonso left for McLaren.

Yes, there was a bit of bad luck in 2008...and, yes, bench-marking him against Hamilton might be too harsh...but the nail was when he was theoretically favoured to win the Italian Grand Prix at Monza at a time when the McLaren was coming good after it's poor early 2009 spell.

But Kovy went backwards in that Grand Prix...whilst Hamilton was hustling the leading Brawns in the last laps of the race.

Ouch.

Perhaps Hamilton is one of the All Time Greats in the making and, perhaps, Kovy - as a result - is a very good driver.

There's no shame in Button being beaten by Hamilton.

Even Alonso couldn't defeat Hamilton when he was a Rookie.

So, there should be no shame in Kovalainen having been beaten by Hamilton.

Perhaps Kovy deserves a better seat...but I don't think he can beat Hamilton and Vettel straight up. Even Rosberg, though I still have a question mark over him (Nico).

Still, that leaves plenty of seats open once Schumacher, Barrichello, Webber and, possibly, Button retire...but Heikki should make hay whilst the sun shines because the likes of Kobayashi, Di Resta, Ricciardo and Perez will be knocking on the door. Soon.
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
Perhaps Kovy deserves a better seat...but I don't think he can beat Hamilton and Vettel straight up. Even Rosberg, though I still have a question mark over him (Nico).

Still, that leaves plenty of seats open once Schumacher, Barrichello, Webber and, possibly, Button retire...but Heikki should make hay whilst the sun shines because the likes of Kobayashi, Di Resta, Ricciardo and Perez will be knocking on the door. Soon.
I think most drivers get one chance at the big seat, and Heikki's came in Italy in 2009 (and to a lesser extent in 2008) and he blew it. It is sad when that happens, but he held all the aces there.
 
teabagyokel ,

Fair enough...but there are plenty of seats beyond a "big" seat.

In my post I wrote he deserves merely "a better seat".

From where i'm standing, there's about 3 Aces on the grid right now and, possibly, up to 5 heading into 2012...subject to Kubica coming back as the driver he once was...and subject to Rosberg showing he can beat another very good driver in his prime (or at least take Poles and win Grands Prix outright).

Those three Aces, obviously, are Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso.

Right behind these three and Rosberg are Button, Webber, Schumacher, Massa.

Massa and Schumacher are dissapointing and might not even be in their current seats next year...Webber is about to retire any year...and Button - Well Button seems happy in his position at McLaren as a Number 1-A and Whitmarsh seems reasonably happy with him as a Number 1-A.

Kobayashi and Di Resta look like stepping up soon...and then there's possibly Hulkenberg and Ricciardo.

Between the "big" seats and Heikki's Lotus seat are a bunch of other seats:

At Williams (if Barricello continues to struggle). At Renault (If Kubica doesn't come back). At Sauber (if Kobayashi moves up).

Also, there's no reason to think Kovy can't get a chance at a 'big' seat again... but not necessessarily as a Number 1.

He has to show he can cut the mustard though.

Right?

My question mark is still out over him.

He's a better prospect than Trulli, though!

Trulli is about ready to head off to his Vineyard. Permanently. :snigger:
 

MCLS

Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
To be honest, Renault might be his best option. Providing they keep Petrov for another year, they'll probably prefer to go for Kovalainen who would be good for more years compared to Heidfeld who is coming close to his expiry date/
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
He's ok, but I don't think he's as good as the established "second tier" of drivers, and it's hard to see him getting into anything much better than a Sauber or, gulp, a Williams.

Not many drivers get into a fifth season of F1 having been beaten on qualifying laptime differentials by their team-mates in every one of the previous four - notwithstanding that he has been better in the races at Lotus than he was at McLaren.
 

EvilWhippet

Podium Finisher
To be honest, Renault might be his best option. Providing they keep Petrov for another year, they'll probably prefer to go for Kovalainen who would be good for more years compared to Heidfeld who is coming close to his expiry date/
Kovalainen has been partnered with one driver tipped for greatness and come out 0-2, Heidfeld has been partnered with Massa, Raikkonen and Kubica and come out on top in head to head seasons if I'm not mistaken. It's like comparing a cheap lymerick to a timeless sonnet. A sonnet with a beard.
 

Slyboogy

World Champion
Contributor
Kovalainen has been partnered with one driver tipped for greatness and come out 0-2, Heidfeld has been partnered with Massa, Raikkonen and Kubica and come out on top in head to head seasons if I'm not mistaken. It's like comparing a cheap lymerick to a timeless sonnet. A sonnet with a beard.
But got beat by Heinz-Harold Frentzen :p

Hm, I think he might just stick with Team Lotus for a while. It's the best option I say, wouldn't want to go to Williams.
 

Slyboogy

World Champion
Contributor
You are right there Whippet but the point is, even Heidfeld won't want to carry on for more than 2 seasons at the most.
Heidfeld is only 34, Jarno Trulli is 37, Barrichello god knows, the big 4 0 I think.

If he gets a drive he will stay, or he could do a De La Rosa and hang around, then grab a drive when he can, like de La Rosa he has something to prove to F1, more so to himself.
 
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