Kovalainen confirmed at McLaren for 2008

McLaren have confirmed that Lewis Hamilton s new team-mate in 2008 will be Heikki Kovalainen. After an impressive rookie season with Renault, the young Finn has transferred to McLaren and the team are sure that the two drivers will make a ‘formidable combination.

The team have also confirmed that Pedro de la Rosa remains in his third driver role with British driver Gary Paffett staying as the team s tester.

“We had a number of options open to us,” CEO Martin Whitmarsh explained. “As always, we want to make sure that we have the most competitive driver line-up and I think that Lewis and Heikki will be a formidable combination.

“Both enjoyed great rookie seasons in 2007 and share a genuine passion for winning and being the best. Heikki made a strong impression and Lewis performance so far has been outstanding and speaks for itself. I am confident that they will push each other on track and work well together off track.

“In addition with Pedro remaining our primary test driver alongside Gary, we really have a strong package and look forward to 2008.”

“I am so excited to join a team like Vodafone McLaren Mercedes,” Kovalainen said. “So far I have been blown away by the dedication and commitment to winning which is clear through the entire organisation and I am really excited about our joint future. As a Finn it’s an honour for me to follow in Mika and Kimi’s footsteps. I haven’t really spent a lot of time with Lewis so far but from what I know I think we will work well together and do our best for the team.”

Lewis Hamilton is pleased with his team-mate for next season and is relishing the season ahead. “As soon as the chequered flag went in Brazil I began to count down the days until Australia,” said Hamilton. “I am really looking forward to 2008 and working with Heikki as my teammate.

“Together with the team we will do everything we can to ensure that our Championship challenge is as strong and focused as possible. My first year in Formula One was incredible and I was so fortunate to spend it with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and I hope that Heikki will enjoy his first year with the team as much as I did mine.”