Category Archives: Heikki Kovalainen

McLaren in the News – 16th December 2009

A Profile and Interview of new Lotus Driver – Heikki Kovalainen @ The Sports Campus F1
Tuesday 15th November
28-year old Finn Heikki Kovalainen was this Monday appointed to the Lotus F1 Racing team for the 2010 season alongside Italian Jarno Trulli and Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy.

Heikki started his motor racing career karting in the early 1990’s. His first recognition came with second place in the Finnish Formula A Championship in 1999 and 2000. That year also saw Heikki add the Scandinavian Championship and the Elf Masters, held at Paris Bercy, to his achievements, earning him title of Karting Driver of the Year in his native Finland. Heikki’s success saw him move up to the British Formula Renault Championship in 2001, bringing two wins, two poles and three fastest laps, enough to give him fourth place in the Championship, plus the 2001 Finnish Automobile Sports Federation “Rookie of the Year” award. That same year, Heikki made his F3 debut at the world renowned Macau Grand Prix, finishing 8th. In 2002 Heikki moved on to compete in the British F3 Championship, scoring an impressive five wins, three poles and three fastest laps, securing his third position in drivers’ standings. He was once again given the “Rookie of the Year” award, and won the prestigious F3 support race at the British Grand Prix. He capped an impressive year by finishing second in Macau and fourth at the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort. (read more…)

I will not settle for being second best: Jenson Button @ DNA Sport
Tuesday 15th November
London: Reigning Formula One world champion Jenson Button has warned former champion and McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton that he will not settle for being second best in the team.

Button’s comment came after he finished runner-up in the BBC Sports Personality awards, where he was the favourite, but lost out to Manchester United star Ryan Giggs.

“Any sportsman does not like coming second, but Ryan is the best man I could have lost to,” The Sun quoted Button, as saying. “I’m looking forward to working with Lewis. We will work together to build a good car but, on circuit, we will be fierce rivals. That’s the way it is,” he added. (read more…)

Mosley speaks out on ‘spygate’ @ Yahoo! F1
Monday 14th November
Max Mosley, the former president of the FIA, has spoken out about the way in which he handed the ‘spygate’ saga which affected the 2007 F1 season – and the proposed breakaway from earlier this year.
Mosley, who has now been replaced by Jean Todt as the head of motorsport’s governing body, spoke at length in an article published by Britain’s Sunday Telegraph in which he discussed the two scandals – which revealed how he had wanted to ban McLaren for its involvement in ‘spygate’ and how he remains convinced that his proposed budget cap for F1 was the correct idea to take the sport forwards…
“On July 3, 2007 I got a call from Ron Dennis, the boss of the McLaren Formula One team, to say that at 7.30 that morning, lawyers acting for Ferrari had raided the home of Mike Coughlan, McLaren’s chief designer, and recovered CDs which were believed to contain the entire technical details of the current Ferrari Formula One car. “Spygate” had begun,” he wrote. (read more…)

Whitmarsh to become FOTA chairman @ Aurosport.com
Thursday 10th November
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has been voted in as Luca di Montezemolo’s successor as the chairman of the Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA), AUTOSPORT can reveal.

Following a meeting of the Formula 1 Commission in Monaco on Thursday, team principals then got together for a FOTA gathering to discuss plans for next year – which included the election of new senior officials.

Sources have confirmed that Whitmarsh was ratified as the new chairman, and he will take over the mandate from di Montezemolo whose one-year term ends later this month. (read more…)

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Filed under Constructors, Drivers, Heikki Kovalainen, In the news..., Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren

McLaren Moments #2 – Australian Grand Prix 2009

After the disappointing testing sessions in Spain I was looking to the Australian Grand Prix with a mixture of hope and fear.

Lewis Hamilton at the Friday practice session in Australia
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The Friday and Saturday practice sessions didn’t do a great deal to alleviate my fears that McLaren were going to have a rotten race, and probably a rotten season too. Qualifying didn’t prove to be the saving grace for McLaren as Hamilton ended up 15th with Kovalainen 14th. I didn’t end there, a gear box change meant that Hamilton dropped 5 grid places to 20th – at the very back of the grid, not an auspicious start to the 2009 season for the 2008 World Champion!

Thankfully problems with other drivers meant that Hamilton actually started in 18th, not on the back row at least. In the first 5 laps Hamilton had charged his way up to 10th place, a sure sign that he was not resigning himself to defeat, despite driving a car far below his race winning expectations. By the end of the race he was up to 4th place, and behind the safety car he overtook Jarno Trulli when the Italian went off the race track, a legal manoeuvre. Trulli rejoined the race track and then overtook Hamilton to take his 3rd place back, an illegal manoeuvre. An inquest would see Hamilton given 3rd place back, but this was after the race and he didn’t get to claim his quite remarkable podium place.

Lewis Hamilton during the 2009 Australian Grand Prix
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Heikki Kovalainen wasn’t as fortunate as a first corner incident with Mark Weber saw the Fins race finished before even one lap had been completed.

At this point Hamilton was 3rd in the drivers Championship and things weren’t looking as bad as I’d initially feared – in fact I was positively thrilled with Hamilton’s performance and McLaren’s turn of fortune. However, that was all about to change, but we’ll wait till McLaren Moments #3 to discuss the nightmare of the media labelled lie-gate!

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Filed under Australian, Constructors, Drivers, Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, McLaren Moments

McLaren in the News – 5th November 2009

LEWIS: TRACK WOE A BOOST @ Mirror.co.uk Sport
Thursday 5th November 2009
Lewis Hamilton insists he is pleased his soaring career hit the buffers at the start of the year.

And he claims those tough times will make him and his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team even harder to beat in 2010.

Hamilton ends the season as the highest points scorer in the final seven Grands Prix, meeting the demands from new boss Martin Whitmarsh to restore some team pride. (read more…)

Button, Hamilton think 2010 is going to be toughest ever @ sifysports Formula 1
Tuesday 3rd November 2009
Formula One Champion Jenson Button and his immediate predecessor Lewis Hamilton have said that next season’s F1 title battle will be the toughest ever.

Both the British drivers believe eight people will be gunning for glory in 2010.

New champion Button fears Hamilton’s McLaren team, Ferrari and Red Bull will get their act together after missing out this year. (read more…)

Hamilton Snr eyes Raikkonen for McLaren seat @ Motorsport.com
Tuesday 3rd November 2009
Lewis Hamilton would welcome Kimi Raikkonen as his new McLaren teammate, the British driver’s father and manager Anthony Hamilton has confirmed.

2008 world champion Hamilton has until now stated his desire to keep Heikki Kovalainen alongside him, raising suggestions he does not want to be challenged by the occupant of the sister car.

“First, I want to say that neither Lewis nor myself have any influence on the decision,” Hamilton Snr told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat. (read more…)

Hamilton Determined to Get Back on Top @ New York Times Sports
Tuesday 3rd November 2009
LONDON (Reuters): Lewis Hamilton will be pushing McLaren harder than ever over the next few months to make sure he does not have to endure another ‘character-building’ season like the one just finished.

The 2008 world champion started the Formula One campaign with a disqualification, battered by a storm over lying to stewards in Australia and struggling with a car that was painfully off the pace.

He ended it in Abu Dhabi on Sunday with the first mechanical retirement of his career after leading from pole position, but with everything to look forward to.(read more…)

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Filed under Constructors, Drivers, Heikki Kovalainen, In the news..., Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren

Whitmarsh confirms McLaren will be faster in 2010

Courtesy of Mercedes Benz, this is what Martin Whitmarsh had to say about next year’s car:

Work on MP4-25 is already going very encouragingly – it’s already quicker than MP4-24.

There’s every reason for us to be confident that we’ll be able to continue to develop and improve it significantly between now and the beginning of the 2010 season.

That’s very encouraging news as the MP4-24, from the middle of the season, got more competitive with every race. In Abu Dhabi Lewis Hamilton was spectacularly dominant in Free Practice and Qualifying, and it was clear that the MP4-24 we were seeing at the end of the season was worlds apart from the under-performing car we saw in Australia.

The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 of Heikki Kovalainen in Abu Dhabi
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With all teams, including McLaren, FOTA having agreed to scrap KERS for the 2010, Whitmarsh saying that the MP4-25 is already faster than the KERS enabled MP4-24 is very impressive, so much so that I’m thinking really? Could this just be hyperbole or have the McLaren engineers really made that much progress already? As a McLaren fan I’m obviously hoping for the latter, I guess we won’t really know until testing commences in February 2010.

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Filed under Constructors, Drivers, Heikki Kovalainen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren

McLaren in Abu Dhabi in Pictures

Thanks to the fantastic service offered by PicApp, we can now bring you a decent number of good photos from Grand Prix races, starting with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from last weekend.

However, before we get to those, McLaren has had an F1 car in Abu Dhabi before, as this photo of Fernando Alonso from the 2007 F1 Festival shows:

Click the arrow on the right of the photo to actually see Alonso!
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Lewis Hamilton on the new Yas Marina circuit for the first time during Free Practice 1 on Friday 30th October.
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Lewis Hamilton experiences racing at dusk during Free Practice 2 on Friday 30th October – wonder if they have any shots of Heikki Kovalainen?
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Found one! Heikki Kovalainen during Free Practice 2 on Friday 30th October.
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Lewis Hamilton exits the pit lane tunnel during Final Practice 3 on Saturday 31st October.
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Lewis Hamilton sets out for Qualifying on Saturday 31st October
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Heikki Kovalienen during Qualifying – it’s pretty dark out there!
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Lewis Hamilton celebrates getting Pole Position for the very first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
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Lewis Hamilton flies off from pole to lead the race on Sunday 1st November.
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Heikki Kovalainen racing as the sun sets in Abu Dhabi.
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That’s the pick of the bunch – there are far more photos from the practice and qualifying sessions, maybe because of Lewis retiring Heikki not being in a great deal of action during the race. Still, there’s some fantastic photos and while the race may not have been very interesting, it’s a visually stunning racetrack and location.

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Filed under Abu Dhabi, Constructors, Drivers, Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen, In Pictures, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren

Who will be McLaren’s 2nd driver in 2010?

With the 2009 Formula 1 season over, next on the agenda is for McLaren is confirming who their second driver will be, the man who will be Lewis Hamilton’s team mate next season. At the moment there are three possible contenders, so let’s go through those three options.

Kimi Raikkonen

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Currently at Ferrari where he has been for the past 3 seasons, Raikkonen has been linked with McLaren ever since it was clear that Fernando Alfonso was moving to Ferrari from Renault and even before. Though he won the Drivers Championship at Ferrari in 2007 it never seemed like he was a good fit for the Italian team, and though Felipe Massa is yet to win the World Championship, as soon as rumours of Alonso moving to Ferrari started people naturally assumed it would be Raikkonen who would be leaving.

If Raikkonen did come to McLaren it would be a return to the team that was his home from 2002 – 2006, and one where he had great success, especially the 2003 and 2005 seasons where he finished 2nd in the Championship to Schumacher and Alonso respectively. Raikkonen seemed to have much more drive and desire to win back then, maybe a return to McLaren will see that passion re-ignited for the cool Finn.

Nick Heidfeld

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Nick Heidfeld is nothing if not consistent, but is that enough? At BMW he has played second fiddle to Robert Kubica, at least in the eyes of the critics who see Kubica as one of Formula 1’s future stars. Just read this opening paragraph from his Wikipedia entry:

Despite his recent success, Heidfeld is yet to win a race during his nine seasons in Formula One. This means that amongst the current drivers, he has had the most GP starts without standing at the top spot on the podium. Heidfeld has now started over 150 races, so if he were to eventually win a race he would break the record for most starts before a maiden victory. This is currently held by Mark Webber, who claimed his first victory on his 131st attempt. Heidfeld also currently holds three other dubious records; he is the driver who has scored the highest number of world championship points without a Grand Prix win, shares the record for the most podium finishes without a Grand Prix win with Stefan Johansson, and has the most second place finishes without a win, with 8. He also holds the record for the most consecutive race classifications with a tally of 41, as well as the most finishes in a season when he finished all 18 races in the 2008 season.

While interesting, that’s hardly a list of achievements to get you excited about a driver. However, as a 2nd driver and someone to grab a decent haul of points in support of Lewis Hamilton he could be a good fot for the team. There is also the fact that he is German and as a team that has Mercedes as a major shareholder, that can only be a good thing, especially in a sport that seems to more about the PR than ever before.

Heikki Kovalainen

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When Kovalainen did a straight swap with Alonso, between Renault and McLaren, to start the 2008 season, it seemed like the young Finn was set to have a great career in Formula 1. In 2008 he ended up 7th in the Championship, while team mate Hamilton won the World Championship. If his first year was unspectacular then his second year with McLaren was even more so. McLaren didn’t have a competitive car in the first half of the season but when they came good for the last 8 races, unlike team mate Hamilton, Kovalainen didn’t seem to make the most of his opportunities and while he often qualified pretty well he couldn’t carry that form through to the actual race. In a season that Hamilton battled up to 5th place in the Championship, Kovalainen ended the year in 12th place. That quite frankly is not good enough for a driver wearing the prestigious McLaren team colours.

Looking at Kovalainen this season it seems as though he’s lost a lot of confidence, and in a team that could well be renamed at Team Hamilton, that may not be easy to get back if he were to stay where he is. However, Kovalainen is reportedly very good with all his PR commitments, something that McLaren is putting more emphasis on with every passing season. This is something that Raikkonen has always tried to steer clear of so from that respect Kovalainen is a better fit than his Finnish compatriot. If Kovalainen were to stay with McLaren he would certainly need to step up his performance, but that’s something that the team need to help with just as much as Kovalainen himself.

The Verdict

All three of these drivers have one thing in common, something that makes them a good fit within the team and a natural fit as the second driver at McLaren – they would all be happy accept their position as the number 2 driver in the team and let the lion’s share of the attention fall on Lewis Hamilton.

In my mind Kimi Raikkonen is head and shoulders above Kovalainen and Heidfeld from a racing point of view, it’s just his aversion to interacting with people that may hamper his chances, but surely that’s not worth giving up championship points for?

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Filed under BMW, Constructors, Drivers, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Heikki Kovalainen, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nick Heidfeld, Renault

McLaren: Year on Year Comparison – The Season

With the season now over I thought I’d resurrect the Year on Year Comparisons and see how 2009 compared to 2009. With 2008 being a Championship winning year for Lewis Hamilton and a much better year all round for McLaren I’m not expecting revelations, but inspired by Making Up The Numbers I am going to add in a few pretty graphs for your added visual pleasure!

First, let’s look at the whole season:

mc-yoy-2008-2009

McLaren Season Comparison

Obviously there was one race less this year, but that aside it’s clear to see the performance difference between this season and last. Quite interesting to see that the most points scored in one race is 14 points, in both 2008 and 2009. That elusive 1-2 seems to be eluding them, in fact a less elusive 1-3 hasn’t happened in the past 2 seasons either. Let’s now see how the points per race average differ from between seasons:

mc-yoy-2008-2009-raceav

Average Points Per Race

While the numbers are low compared to last season they do the second half the season an injustice, at least for Lewis Hamilton anyway. This next graph shows the accumulation of points through the season and in particular it’s worth noting the sharp increase in the second half of the season, especially by Hamilton.

mc-yoy-2008-2009-racebyrace

Race by Race

Hamilton earned 9 points in the first 9 races and 40 in the next 8 races, If he’d have had the same form in the first part of the season he’d have ended the season with 85 points, which would have him in 2nd place behind Jenson Button. However, those extra points would no doubt have come at the expense of Button so arguably if Hamilton and McLaren had started the season how they finished then Hamilton would have retained his World Drivers Championship in 2009.

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Filed under Constructors, Drivers, Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Year on Year Comparisons