The Enigma of Kovalainen.

The Artist.....

Champion Elect
I've been puzzling over the pace (or lack of it) we have seen from Kovi in the second half of the season.

Since Silversone, he seems happy to tootle around, about 3 or 4 tenths of a second per lap slower than Lewis, and doesn't seem to have the car underneath him. This may even stretch back to the accident in Barcelona.....

I've been trying to think of reasons for this, and have come up with a few, which I suspect may be all factors in the issue.

1. LH is faster
2. McLaren as a team is built around LH, and the car was designed with him in mind - so it plays to his strengths
3. Kovi was spooked by having a high speed failure in Barcelona (Why is it at McLaren that it always seems to be the number 2 car that fails - when it was Senna and Berger, Berger always retired with mechanical issues, now with Hamilton and Kovi, Kovi's had a major wheel failure (not tyres) and an engine expire.)
4. Kovi has lost motivation since it became clear early in the season that since he was quite some way behind LH, he was going to have to play the team game.

It seems to me that the Kovi we are seeing at the moment is the same Kovi who made all the mistakes in Melbourne last year, rather than the ultra-quick confident rookie who out-shone Fisichella by the season's end.

What do you think?
I think Kovi has had extraordinary bad luck and has also been kissed by Ron. I, don't for one minute, believe the VMM mission statement of equal status and never have done - and past "2nd" drivers have only reinforced my opinion. They may get equal machinery but they do not get equal backing or a fair share of first options for strategy.

The sad thing is that Ron has such belief in his own mindset that he actually disadvantages, not only the "other" driver, but also the team as a whole.
IMO it would appear that he is a good driver, but not a great by some way. That said, the high fuel load in China was a strange strategy unless McLaren were trying to ensure control if there was a SC incident. To be honest, I've been pretty disappointed by him, I wouldn't be surprised if he's not replaced at the end of next year.
He is a strange one. I've been disappointed in him this year, possibly the weakest team mate from all of the teams. I'm not sure why, he's undoubtedly a quick driver but I wonder if the Maclaren is just too good for him at the moment, he seems to me like the sort of driver who needed 3 or 4 seasons in a minor team working through problems rather than having seamless back up from a slick and professional team. I don't believe for a minute those that say that Hamilton is favoured, or the car is built for him, the things are almost infinately adjustable and can be set up however a driver wants. Remember the difference between Villeneuve and Hills set ups? Chalk and cheese, Villeneuve wanting a hanging out lose car (similar to the Indy set up) while Hill always went for the stable, planted set up more suited to his driving.
Nah, Kovi just hasn't cut the mustard this year, personally or for the team. Yes he has been unlucky, that's just one of those things, but he has been too inconsistent.
If I had my way I'd have Jamie Green, Paul De Resta and Gary Paffet slugging it out in a test (or even a satellite Maclaren team!).
I think he deserves one more year to prove himself. After all, this is his first year in a new team and only his second in F1. I know this is only Hamilton's second season but he's been very much part of the McLaren family for years.
Kovi, as has already been stated, has had much of the mechanical bad luck in the team (Barcelona, Spa, Fuji) as well as some on-track bad luck (collided with Raikkonen in Turkey & Kubica in Singapore) but did win a race and got a solid second at Monza. Who's to say without those incidents he couldn't have yielded another 10-15 points? That would put him on a par with Kimi and no-one would be talking about him getting replaced.
They say you make your own luck but judge him after his second season, old Kovi's done alright.
Kovalainen, for one, beat Fisi by far less than Alonso did(who based on 2007 is as good as Hamilton. Don't lynch me for that comment!) and logically cannot be expected to be as good as Hamilton.

I also think McLaren wanted someone mentally stable rather than fast. They were burned by Prost vs Senna before, and now by Hamilton vs Alonso! They needed a team player and they've got one. McLaren needed to walk before they could run!

Basically, Kovalainen has not been terrifically fast, but he's not taken points off Hamilton, therefore leaving a McLaren on course for the big one without having the fastest car! This is the opposite of last year, when Alonso and Hamilton's brinkmanship left a big door marked "Champion" open for Raikkonen.

McLaren work best with a British/Finnish combination! Coulthard didn't beat Hakkinen, why should driver no.2 have to be on the pace of driver no.1 for the team to be successful?
Give him the next season, he has been hit by technical problems and as some say weird fuel strategies. He is good, he showed that last season in Renault, often out pacing his team mate.

The tyre mismatch really annoyed me in China, someone should have their knuckles rapped. I believe he will be able to help Hamilton in Brazil.
The thing with Kovi this year is that I just don't see him being allowed to stretch his legs, whether by his own decisions, or the decisions of the team, I don't know.

Certainly, throughout the season, his qualifying pace, fuel adjusted, has been right up with Hamilton's, and has been disadvantaged by running longer, and ending up caught up with the runners who he should've been ahead of.
I've never really liked the strategies of McLaren, time and time again they were shown up by Ferrari strategy, obviously not applicable this season. Look at China last year, they should have called Lewis in a few laps earlier, if I could see how bad the tyre was, surely they could too! It comes to something when Bridgestone wanted him called in, but McLaren said no!

I like Heikki, McLaren need to balance the pair if they want to win the WDC/WCC. Without a doubt Heikki has talent, but is being overshadowed for whatever reason by Lewis. I believe they should try for 1 - 2 on the grid with one only having another 1 or 2 laps of fuel, equal cars racing as a team!
Thanks to GM's fuel-adjusted times, it's obvious that Heikki is just fractionally slower than Lewis during Qualifying.
However, during the race he seems to be quite a bit slower, even with taking their respective fuel loads into account.

I don't understand why McLaren fuel him relatively heavy.
Perhaps he would do better by being fuelled light so he is further up the grid?
HK does appear to fall asleep for a bit mid race very much the same as Irvine used to.
I'm 100% sure that he's getting the same level of support within the team as Hamilton, there are after all 2 seperate sets of engineers, one for each driver, although the likes of Whitmarsh and RD may well keep a closer eye on Hamilton..... that may be an advantage to HK! :snigger:
Parts wise it's unlikely that an organisation like McLaren would produce an update and not have the capability to deliver it to both drivers, one driver getting it a race ahead of the other is normal further down the field though.
And of course 2 different specs of cars efectively stops realistic comparisons in the data which would adversly affect the information gained from practices and be a disadvantage to both drivers equaly.

But next year, and maybe Brazil, it's all down to HK putting in the performances everyone is expecting of him, so it's all down to him really.
I'm sure McLaren would like nothing more than to have both drivers consistently on the podium.
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