Heikki Kovalainen


Valued Member
After the débacle that was Monza, I wonder where Kovalainen's position in F1 is now. The Italian GP this year had Kovalainen in the greatest position he has yet been to win a race in F1, and he messed it up. His only race victory to date is his incredibly fortuitous victory in Budapest in 2008.

Kovalainen showed some good form in his last half-year at Renault but his two years at McLaren have not seen him get near Hamilton except for when the silver car was towards the back of the grid in mid-season. He has outqualified Hamilon on occasions, but when the McLaren has looked strong Hamilton has always had the edge.

The question, of course, is whether Kovalainen is doing a decent job and Hamilton is doing a very good job (when he's not getting acquainted with the Monza walls) but I feel it is unlikely that he'll be driving a McLaren next season.

Where would that leave Kovalainen?
I agree with you 100 percent TBY. The only thing Kovi achieved in Monza was to write his own resignation from the team. Obviously there are many reasons involved and as most of us have never even sat in an F1 car let alone driven one we can only speculate but as you say Heikki should at least been on the podium this weekend. As Button pointed out if he hadn't have got past Heikki his race would have been completely different. His lack of pace at any point during the race must have left the Mclaren team a bit confused.

As for next season, I feel he is in a lucky position becasue the driver market has never been so open with at least 6 new seats available.

The market for drivers with F1 experience is quite strong at the moment. PK Jnr is unlikely to be in the mix but Bourdais and Kovalainen could be on someones shopping list.
In my opinion it's a done deal that Heikki won't be with McLaren next season, despite what they might be telling the press.

Whether he has underperformed or Hamilton has overperformed, the fact is he hasn't done a very good job.

In 2008 he finished a lowly 7th behind 2 Ferrari's, 2 BMW's and a Renault.
He really did McLaren no favours last year in their bid to win the WCC.

If he had been able to make it to the first corner at Monza without being passed then it's highly possible that McLaren could have been on for a 1-2 finish.
As it was he qualified the best of the 1 stoppers, lost 3 places before the end of the first lap and finished a minute behind his team mate (or would have done prior to Hamilton's last lap lapse) who was by all accounts on a strategy which was 5 seconds slower.

I feel he is destined for mid-field obscurity from here on out.

Shame really as he's a nice guy but he just doesn't have what it takes to be in the top 10% of current F1 drivers.
And if it's his destiny to be a 2nd driver then he also doesn't do that job very well.
So what is the best role for him. "Experienced hand" at USF1, Campos, Manor or Lotus or as a ?1 for someone like Toyota, Williams or Renault?
I don't know what will happen to Heikki, but his desciption harks back to that being used for Trulli as a qualifying specialist who loses pace in the race - the same is still true, but he's still racing for the set-up skills and ability to finish he brings to a team
But you still feel that Kovalainen has never had a performance like, say, Trulli's performance in this year's Australian Grand Prix, when he started in the pitlane and ended up on the podium. I'm not sure I've ever seen Kovalainen go anywhere but backwards. Last year he lost 43 points from qualifying to the end of the race.

2008 Qualifying World Championship Table



That is too many backward steps, I'm afraid.
Blimey, that is bad. I think with the closeness in the cars this season, this has highlighted any speed differentials in the drivers. As an example, if Kovy was 0.2 behind Hamilton last year, it could have been 1, maybe 2 spots behind on the grid. This year can mean the difference between top 10 and Q3 {edit - oops, I meant Q1 - For some reason I think of Q1 as being the '1st group', Q2 = '2nd group', Q3 = '3rd group'} . And that's before we even consider race pace, where both Kovy and Nakajima are (relatively!) woeful compared to their teammates. I bet if any of us were asked which two drivers are most likely to drop 5 places after a run of pitstops, it would be these two.

They're not the worst drviers in F1, but HK especially just doesn't seem to have an 'on it' side to his driving.
I'm going to defend Heikki (because it's early and I'm still pished)

Yes, he hasn't stepped up this season but this year's car has been a dog and Monza was woeful but.......

ahhhhh f :censored: k it, I can't defend Heikki he had one of the best cars last year and massively underperformed compared to the golden boy, he's the next Jarno and will be seeing a lot more cars in front of him next year.
right up to monza i had hopes for our heikki. i thought he was just having issues adjusting, hey, some people take more time then others.

but after that backwards driving in monza, my hopes are dashed. what was heikki trying to do? he could have won if he had taken things a bit more aggressive and then he could have given the victory to LH if heikki had kept button behind for just a few more laps.

so who will be at macca last year next to LH? either sutil or raikkonen methinks.

heikki will end up with one of the new teams. lotus would be a good one for him.
Are things getting worse for Heikki?

Most people now seem to agree that he won't be with McLaren next year.
He might have moved back to Renault to replace Alonso but now that Briatore is gone that's no longer likely.
Especially as the rumours suggest Kubica has already signed with most likely Grosjean as his team mate.

Rosberg is apparently off to Brawn, swapping with Barrichello who will take his seat at Williams, or possibly Heidfeld with Hulkenberg as rear gunner.

Whichever way it pans out, all of the top teams seem to have filled their seats so there isn't much left for Heikki to consider.
Possibly Toyota (if they're still here next year), Force India or one of the new teams?

He has to be wondering at this point where it all went wrong.
As I posted a few months ago, it's not looking good for Heikki.

All the good seats are gone and as yet I haven't heard a single rumour of him being in talks with any of the teams.
It's not really a shock to be honest.

Given the standard of car that he's been lucky enough to find himself in you would have thought he would have grasped the opportunity with both hands. On the face of it, 1 win and 4 podiums in 3 seasons would be a good return for some drivers but it's not enough when you've had a car that won the WDC in 2008.

He just dosn't seem to have the raw race speed required to compete with the best of them. I think he's had his chance at the top.
CaT said :

He just dosn't seem to have the raw race speed required to compete with the best of them. I think he's had his chance at the top.

I think this sums Heikki up.

He can produce a good quali lap but when it comes to the race he tends to go backwards.

I don't think any top team will touch him, the new entrants may find him useful as a 2nd driver just for his setup experience. A shame seems like a nice enough guy.
My mistake, Heikki's F1 career seems to be on the up.

He has made a shrewd move from McLaren to the new "Lotus" team as No.2 driver to Jarno Trulli.

Oh wait...
Obviously it's a seat for Heikki which is perhaps more than he was expecting a few weeks ago. Having two experienced drivers may be a good thing for Lotus in the long run but as I've posted earlier in this thread, Kovi lacks the out and out pace of a top driver.

Perhaps the key to the new Lotus pairing is consistancy and maybe that 9/10ths approach will help build a solid foundation with which the team can progress.

Another thing to come out of these signings is a telling indication of the budget at Lotus. Signing Trulli on a 3 year deal for starters is a brave move but by signing two drivers on a contract as apposed to get a "pay per drive" guy in at least one of the seats would indicate that at least for now, Lotus has got some funding in place. This is perhaps why the team were given a grid slot in what at the time seemed a bit of a shock.

As a fan it's Kovi / Trulli isn't exactly the most thrilling of driver line ups but I guess they will provide Lotus with a firm base on which to develop.

It's going to be a case of wait and see for now.
cider_and_toast said:
Perhaps the key to the new Lotus pairing is consistancy and maybe that 9/10ths approach will help build a solid foundation with which the team can progress.
Fair enough but they've signed both drivers for 3 years.

So without breaking contracts, they're stuck with 2 drivers who may help with car development and be not bad at qualifying, but have been proven to be less than useful when it comes to winning races, even when starting from the front row.
In the imortal words of the captain of the Titanic. Oh Bugger.

Didn't realise that Kovi was on a 3 year deal as well. That's pretty bad buisness imo. Just as you say Bro, if neither performs to the level the team are after then you are stuck with a dead weight on the teams books and no (cheap) way of getting them out.

Hmmmm. Not a very clever thing to do. After reading Trulli was on a 3 year deal I hoped that perhaps Kovi would be offered a 1 and option deal. That way the door could be kept open in case things went pair shaped.
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