Kovalainen & Lotus

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
It surprises me to learn, in the Qualifying Head-to-Head, that Jarno Trulli has actually out-qualified Heikki Kovalainen this season. However, it does seem that Kovalainen has the edge on fastest laps.

I get the feeling, from watching the races, that Kovalainen is doing the better job of pushing the Lotus team thus far, with Trulli as an unsurprising qualifying specialist. It also seems that when Lotus are closest to the established teams it is Kovalainen in the car.



This is not what I meant!

Anyway, I feel that Kovalainen is rebuilding some of his reputation here with some good performances, as he outshines Trulli and Lotus outshine Virgin and Hispania.

REPUTATION: Can be damaged if exposed to Hamilton.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
I agree he seems to be doing a decent job for Lotus but why was he so woefully inadequate when he was at McLaren?

Disregarding Hamilton's performance, Heikki finished a distant 7th in the WDC, with just over half the points of his teammate and behind both Ferraris, both BMWs and a Renault: F1 2008 Standings

It's safe to say that if not for Heikkis poor performance, McLaren would have been WCC in 2008.

I'm not so sure that comparing to Jarno is a good benchmark anyway.
We're all familiar with the phrase "the Trulli train".

I think if there was another Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, etc. in Trulli's seat then once again we might see Heikki's shortcomings.
 

MajorDanby

Motorsports' answer to Eric the Eel
Contributor
I seem to remember that in 2008 that Kovi had a lot more DNFs than Hammy, something that contributed significantly to his poor record for the season. Not to defend his poor results but I've always thought he had more in the tank compared to what he has showed. However, unfulfilled promise is not an excuse and he needs to push forward with the good form he has showed this season. Maybe low expectations have taken some of the pressure off and he is now driving much closer to his ability level
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
Usually I'd agree with you, but I came up with this from your stats:



After 9 races Kovalainen (in qualifying) is doing better than Button against Hamilton. Now I know that Kovalainen lost positions more than he gained them in 2009 and Button gains more than he loses, but judging on qualifying its not all that bad.

The second thing to remember is who they're competing with:



This is the Lewis Hamilton who is, to some extents a qualifying specialist, who is a 2-time Qualifying World Champion, and is shown beating Alonso in 2007, with his only 0 point haul being where he did not complete a lap in Q3 at the Nurburgring.


Brogan said:
I think if there was another Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, etc. in Trulli's seat then once again we might see Heikki's shortcomings.

I think thats an unrealistic expectation. Not all drivers can be at the top, and I don't think there are many who could compete too closely with Hamilton and Alonso. I'm not so sure about Vettel thus far.

If the minimum requirement is to show well against a Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Kubica etc. then I don't think there would be enough drivers to complete the 24 seats.
 

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Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
teabagyokel said:
Usually I'd agree with you, but I came up with this from your stats:

After 9 races Kovalainen (in qualifying) is doing better than Button against Hamilton. Now I know that Kovalainen lost positions more than he gained them in 2009 and Button gains more than he loses, but judging on qualifying its not all that bad.

The second thing to remember is who they're competing with:
Just to put the 2009 qualifying positions in perspective - figures in red denote a problem.

Australia
Lewis Hamilton did not participate in Q2 and was demoted from 13th to 18th due to a gearbox change

Monaco
Lewis Hamilton was demoted from 16th to 20th due to a gearbox change

Great Britain
Lewis Hamilton was unable to complete his last flying lap in Q1 due to the session being red flagged

Now of course we can't rewrite history but based on the rest of the qualifying results I'd bet that Lewis would have qualified ahead of Heikki at Australia and Great Britain which would have made it 7-2 in Lewis' favour for the first 9 races.

I think thats an unrealistic expectation. Not all drivers can be at the top, and I don't think there are many who could compete too closely with Hamilton and Alonso. I'm not so sure about Vettel thus far.

If the minimum requirement is to show well against a Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Kubica etc. then I don't think there would be enough drivers to complete the 24 seats.
I agree.

But at the same time I don't think comparing to Jarno Trulli really does much for a young(er) driver or showcases their talents.
 

KraXik

Rookie
Your surprised at Trulli's qualiy performance?

Trulli and Heikke have both been described as qualifying specialists that fall away in race so I'm not surprised at all. They are like anti-Seb Bourdais, he used to be a poor qualifier but great in race. Maybe mixing Trulli with Bourdais would be a great mixture for success. Trulli to improve qualiy pace and Bourdais to improve race pace.
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
I'm trying to think of other drivers who have looked good in a bad car but then didn't cut it when given a decent one. The two which spring to mind are Justin Wilson, although to describe the Jag he drove in '03 as a good car is perhaps stretching it a bit, and Fisi when he went from FI to Ferrari last season. He had, of course, previoulsy won races at Jordan and Renault though.

Anyone got any others?

Ah, another just came to me - Derek Daly. Williams had the chance to sign Derek Warwick in 1982 but chose Daly instead - he did, at least, make Rosberg Snr look even faster than he was and he was pretty quick LOL
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
I'm as surprised as everyone else to read that Trulli has been shading Kovi in Qually. Taken as a whole, the performance of Kovalainen over an entire race weekend always appears to be better than that of Trulli however on saying that, Jarno has had more troubles with his car than Heikki.

While I think more has been made of it in the press, particularly in releases from Lotus I think in-equality with his team mates has hampered Heikki's time in F1 to date. According to one of the first press releases from Mike Gascgoyne on Heikki's arrival at the team, he states that one of the first questions Heikki asked was "would he get full parity with his team mate?".

I don't think you could doubt for one second that during his spell at Mclaren a 'Lewis First' policy would have been in place. To be honest, why wouldn't it have been. I think coming in the wake of 07 everyone would generally agree that Kovi was signed as a genuine number 2 and the driver of least resistance in Hamilton's push for the title.

His working relationship with Renault didn't exactly get off to a flyer either. After just four races (If memory serves), Flabio was going public with criticism for his number 2 driver. That's hardly likely to boost the confidence of an F1 rookie.

His performances this year are going a long way to improving his some what battered reputation. In going to Lotus it was definitely "last chance saloon" as far as F1 drives go and he seems to be making the most of these opportunities. With Fauzy waiting in the wings no doubt coming with some pretty big Malaysian sponsorship it has certainly been make or break for both drivers.

I fully expect Lotus to be up among the mid-field next season pushing for points in most races (and who knows, maybe even by the end of this season) and its partly down to the work of Jarno and Heikki to have got them on the right track (if you'll pardon the pun).
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
I don't think that you can rightly compare Heikki's performance with that of LH at McLaren, as there is no doubt that Lewis was the number one driver and had the better equipment, all team protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. For a team to have two truly "equal number one" drivers is extremely rare, although teams rarely admit it.

In the Prost/ Senna days at McLaren, it was probably the closest to being true, but that was because they were essentially operating as two separate teams under one roof. I think the next closest was the Graham Hill/Jochen Rindt pairing at Lotus, and that resulted in a great deal of acrimony between the drivers.

I don't think that Heikki is any great shakes myself, but I also think that he is better than his record indicates.
 
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