Heikki Kovalainen

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.


Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
Well you never know, back to Sauber perhaps.

Going back on topic, it's hard to see any driver on the grid that would beat Hamilton at Mclaren. Button and Alonso have failed so far. Kovy is best at a midfield team pushing for points with the occasional podium, which is where lotus are heading at the moment, and he's obviously happy there.


Champion Elect
Heikki was scuppered by that infernal refuelling, because he was a quicker qualifyer than Lewis they just chucked loads of fuel on board and expected him to race from sixth or worse on the grid. It did nothing for his self-confidence and self-worth. Drivers like to feel wanted and appreciated not used as canon fodder.

Anyone that can out qualify the mobile chicane/sleeping policeman that is Jarno Trulli deserves a lot of credit.

Thank goodness the ban on refuelling has erased that ludicrous strategic SNAFU.
Kovalainen ... seems happy at Lotus.

So this idea about Kovy being "happy at Lotus"...

...how happy can you be if the only place you have any chance of finishing on the same lap as the winner is at the Nordschleife?

That was priceless! "How happy can you be if the only place you have any chance of finishing on the same lap as the winner is at the Nordschleife!!! ROFL

I love it!

I should have that copywritten before Nigel Roebuck or Martin Brundle or Maurice Hamilton or Adam Cooper or Peter Windsor steals it! ;)
Absolutely hilarious Ray.

Thank you! :)

You do realise that it's not all about current performance. That's important, of course it is. But I think what really motivates Kovalainen is the challenge of taking a team from the bottom to the top. Imagine if a few years down the line Team Lotus are grabbing podiums and wins, and he's heading that success.

Ya. Wait till that Lotus is mid field and Kovy gets out-qualified by some young guy you've never heard of.

That's assuming it ever gets to mid field while Kovy is still in his 20s! :snigger:

Then they'll say things like "Kovy couldn't win in Italy in 2009 ... so perhaps he doesn't have it!"

F1 Team Managers aren't charity cases. It's a cruel world.

My advice to Heikki would be to strike while the iron's hot!

It's high time Kovy tried his hand again in a better package and see what he does against a guy who isn't a Journeyman about to retire off to his Vineyards.


World Champion
He's building a team around him, expect him to be the Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso of Lotus.

It's either a great move if he stay on with them for the rest of his career, or a very bad one.

Make or break....
All I can say is a proper racing driver worth his salt would stick around a bottom of the field car long enough to dismantle his teammate...and then keep moving up the grid ... doing the same thing until he's at a team capable of winning the championship - and sooner than later.

Anything else is a complete waste of time because there's new talent coming through the pipeline ready to replace you in an instant!

But that's just my advice.

[I think it's very good advice, by the way!] :) ;)


Valued Member
When Heikki signed for Lotus, he was (with the two Toyota drivers) pretty much on the Formula One scrapheap. So Lotus was his foot-in-the-door opportunity. Now he has somewhat rebuilt his reputation with his qualifying exploits. Indeed, he's not always the first Lotus finisher, but when Lotus have a good day it always seems to be him at the wheel.

If he gets an opportunity to move back to Renault or maybe to Force India, he should take it. Otherwise, long-term Lotus are likely to get into the midfield and thus are a better prospect than Williams (falling back) or Toro Rosso (staying put).

He got a battering from Hamilton, in part due to the internal refuelling débacle, but there is no shame in that. It is, however, just a great pity he could not win at Monza in 2009, because if he had he would not have needed to sign for Lotus in the first place.


Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Thats what you get when you drive for a team owned by one of BA's rivals. They prob just chucked it in the bin.

Has Heikki really rebuilt his rep? Trulli has had better results than him this season. Yes he's the quickest of the 3 back teams in quali but should we really be suggesting he deserves to move up the grid more than others? There are a lot of drivers who would love a chance to show what they can do in a bigger team Buemi, Sutil, Di Resta, Alguersuari, Perez, Kobayashi etc. It kind of strikes me that Kovi has had his chance and I haven't seen anything amazing in my eyes to suggest he should be given another shot.

He might be a good sign for Williams though. If he does something there then we'll see if his rep is repaired.


Di Resta fan :).
I think his rep is ok at the moment. For me Heikki is far more constant than the other drivers at the back. Most of his retirements have come through the cars fault.

To me he's in the Buemi, Alguersuari, Sutil and Kobayashi fold - all 4 are good but not good enough to go to a top team. I've left Di Resta and Perez out of that list cause i think both will be in top teams come 2013. I agree i think his team has come and gone and maybe the only step forward would be to go to a Force India or back to Renault.


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Unfortunately Heikki's a Division 3 driver for me. Last year he did some sterling work in rebuilding his reputation after Lewis Hamilton took it apart at McLaren but he's a back marker driver now - a latter day Eddie Cheever or Derek Warwick.


Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
Unfortunately Heikki's a Division 3 driver for me. Last year he did some sterling work in rebuilding his reputation after Lewis Hamilton took it apart at McLaren but he's a back marker driver now - a latter day Eddie Cheever or Derek Warwick.

I'm not so sure that Derek Warwick could be considered a Div 3 driver given the wonderful selection of cars he was given to drive.

As for Heikki, again I disagree. No driver who has stood on the top step of the podium can surely be regarded as div 3? While he is no better than Div 2 any less would be harsh.
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