It’s almost a certainty, that unless Kimi Raikkonen decides to chase a career as a rally driver he’ll be the second driver in the McLaren team for 2010, along with 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton. This of course means there will be no race seat for Heikki Kovalainen next season, so where does he go next? The rumour had him down as Robert Kubica’s team mate at Renault but with their recent signing of Timo Glock that won’t be happening. So, does that leave a space for Kovalainen at Toyota, if they compete next year? Could we see the Finn at Williams in place of Nakajima, who surely won’t retain his seat at the team for next season? Could he get a seat at one of the new teams? Whatever the answer, this weekend in Abu Dhabi could be critical for the career of Heikki Kovalainen.
At the brand new Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Kovalainen was 12th quickest in 1st free practice but improved up to 1st in 2nd free practice. It was team mate Lewis Hamilton who went the quickest in 1st free practice and he was also Kovalainen’s quickest rival in 2nd free practice. It looks like McLaren have the MP4-24 in good form for this weekend, though we all know free practice sessions usually have little bearing on the race results, hence Nico Rosberg not being atop the Drivers Championship!
As a McLaren fan, and I know it will sound harsh, but I won’t be sorry to see Kovalainen leave. I have nothing against the guy personally, but as a racing driver he doesn’t seem to have the determination and drive needed to succeed, something that is especially highlighted when you’re the number 2 driver to Lewis Hamilton who goes into every race like the championship depended on it. This season he’s had a few occasions where he’s qualified in a decent position, sometimes ahead of Hamilton, but he hasn’t capitalised on it during the race. Compare that to Hamilton who in the last race in Brazil qualified in 17th and finished on the podium in 3rd and you can see why McLaren are looking to replace him.
Kovalainen needs to take his free practice 2 form into qualifying and then into the race, this is his last chance to impress any potential race team bosses and secure a race seat for 2010. Also, for purely selfish reasons, I want Kovalainen to do well, get some points and help secure 3rd place in the constructors championship ahead of Ferrari!