Heikki Kovalainen has added his denial to rumours he might return to the Renault (now Lotus) team in 2012. Albeit under former boss Flavio Briatore’s management, the Finn made his debut for the Enstone based team in 2007, before switching first to McLaren and more recently to Team Lotus/Caterham.
He remains under contract to Caterham for next year, but speculation at Interlagos nonetheless linked him with a switch to Renault after it emerged injured team leader Robert Kubica is not yet ready to return.
“The list is long,” Renault team boss Eric Boullier is quoted by Spain’s Marca sports newspaper when asked about the driver candidates for 2012. “There are also some drivers with other teams who have some provisions for breaking their contracts. So the list is quite long.”
But German reports quote Kovalainen as insisting: “I am bound to Lotus for next year. I’m sticking with Caterham.”
It is believed Boullier’s push for a clear team leader – and not just an interim solution – could be related to speculation that when Kubica does return to F1, it will not be with Renault.
“I need to understand if he (Kubica) is coming back and with a commitment of the medium term,” said Boullier.
“I will not put aside a car for him to test if he has signed an option to be elsewhere in 2013.”
Boullier’s counterpart Stefano Domenicali played down the Kubica/Ferrari link.
“We’ve been speaking about drivers for Ferrari since February last year,” the Italian insisted. “Maybe next year we’ll come back to (talking about) Valentino Rossi.”