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.


Champion Elect
When you've got someone like Flavio Briatore who has a history of bad driver management .. it does not bode well...if anything he's made himself rich taking a slice of every driver from his stable being on an F1 grid BUT not actually helping towards their career development with the exception of Alonso and Webber


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Il_leone - have you ever read The Piranha Club? Flav is probably no better or worse than many of the other managers and team principals in F1 but, unfortunately for him, he has a very high profile. You may argue that he has created this for himself. Many drivers have had their careers curtailed by poor management or the fact that their face doesn't fit.

Heikki got the boot as he wasn't fast enough when he got into a top team, he may blame back luck at McLaren for not getting better results but his team mate wiped the floor with him. I don't think we can blame Flav for the fact that he wasn't fast enough, (unless you have pictures of him shoving potatoes up the exhaust of Heikki's McLaren?). When Jenson joined McLaren everyone thought the same would happen but the situation turned out quite differently.


Champion Elect

I 've not read the book yet. I was referring to Heikki's time specifically at Renault and it is a typical Flav way of managing drivers before he even had time to settle Flavio was already throwing the next driver from his stable in. People were accusing Flav of picking only drivers from his stable to drive for Renault... no one batted an eyelid whilst the drivers were delivering the results which included pocketing a commission from drivers salary paid by Renault and he himself getting paid by Renault. Flav was more interested in lining his own pocket given talented drivers like Trulli and Fisichella never really fulfilled their potential

I agree there have been terrible team principals but the last 20 years Flav is definitely the worst if you consider how many drivers he fell out with or badly treated. Others like Christian Horner/ Helmut Marko and even Ron Dennis are that much better

Heikki has been very honest of himself at Mclaren that he did not make the most of his opportunities but he said Mclaren gave him enough chances to. They were honest with him that Kimi and Jenson were top 2 choices and he took it well. Yes he had bad luck in various races when he could have got better results but races like Monza was his for the taking and he missed an open goal
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