Kovalainenin running for Razia’s seat

Heikki Kovalainen has emerged as a surprise contender to keep his F1 career alive in 2013.

Ousted by Caterham, the Finn is reportedly in talks with Marussia about replacing the Brazilian Luiz Razia, whose F1 debut is on the skids over delayed sponsorship payments.

MTV3, the Finnish broadcaster, is citing ‘several credible sources’ in reporting that 31-year-old Kovalainen is in with a shout of becoming Max Chilton’s teammate.

Multiple other media sources are reporting the same, based on swirling rumours in the Barcelona paddock that Razia will not be driving the Cosworth-powered Marussia this week.

“Nothing is certain until it is certain,” said MTV3 commentator Oskari Saari, “but that discussions are taking place is a fact.”

Saari added that it is “quite possible” Kovalainen will test the new MR02 on Saturday.

Britain’s Sky reports that Kovalainen has already had a seat fitting at Marussia’s factory, and is offering to race in 2013 for free.

“We have to do what is best for the whole team,” Marussia sporting director Graeme Lowdon said. “If there are changes it will be for the good of the team.”

It has also been rumoured that Narain Karthikeyan and Jules Bianchi are possible contenders for Razia’s seat. Meanwhile, Vitaly Petrov’s manager Oksana Kosachenko was in the Barcelona paddock on Thursday, sparking rumours of a Russian team-and-driver lineup for 2013.

But Kosachenko said: “We’ve already seen the Russian presence of the team diminish.

“The Russians on the team are almost gone,” she told f1news.ru, “Nikolai Fomenko stopped going to the races. The Russians are actually only the owners and the license holders.

“This year, Vitaly will not be in Formula )ne,” Kosachenko confirmed.


Abiteboul: Kovalainen could have new Caterham role

Caterham has left open the door for “a different project” with ousted number 1 race driver Heikki Kovalainen.

Team boss Cyril Abiteboul admitted that, while bringing in a pay-driver was another consideration, Finn Kovalainen’s relationship with Caterham soured after their three years together.

“I think at a certain point at the end of last season, maybe there was not the sort of trust and confidence and respect – on both sides – that you should be counting on for the development of the team and driver,” he told Britain’s Sky broadcaster.

“It’s like with your girlfriend or wife — sometimes when you disappoint too much, you know the relationship is just … broken,” added Abiteboul.

Nonetheless, Abiteboul said it is possible Kovalainen, 31, will continue to work with Caterham in another capacity.

“We continue to have discussions with Heikki to see if a different project could be possible,” he said. “Let’s be honest: we’d be keen to keep experience in our lineup. That’s something we’d both be interested in under the right conditions.”


Kovalainen could join Pirelli in testing role

Heikki Kovalainen could be heading to Pirelli as a test driver. However Pirelli’s boxx Paul Hembery has said that the Finn’s future will depend on whether Pirelli’s contract to supply F1 tyres is extended or not.

“This question is still open,” Hembery told Finland’s Turun Sanomat.

The highly-rated former Renault, McLaren and Caterham driver Kovalainen, 31, is the latest victim of the rise of ‘pay drivers’ in F1.

Hembery continued: “When everything has been resolved, we will see what the situation is with our test drivers.” He confirmed that Pirelli’s 2012 test duo Jaime Alguersuari and Lucas di Grassi are still very much in the frame.

“But Heikki would be an excellent candidate,” added Hembery. “He is a highly experienced driver. I really believe that he is one of the strongest candidates to be with us.”

Finnish rally legend Juha Kankkunen, however, thinks Kovalainen should give a career in rallying a chance.

“I think it would be a perfectly reasonable alternative for Heikki, but so too is DTM or Le Mans,” he told the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti. “But I have seen Heikki in a rally car on the frozen lake in Kuusamo (Finland) and he is an excellent driver, with real talent.”


Hamilton: Bosses fools to overlook Kovalainen

Lewis Hamilton on Monday branded those who overlooked Heikki Kovalainen for a 2013 race seat “fools”.

Caterham has swept out last year’s driver lineup – Finn Kovalainen and Russian Vitaly Petrov – in favour of the well-sponsored Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.

When asked about the demise of his former McLaren teammate, Hamilton said on Monday: “When my flight landed and I was driving to Jerez, I thought about what a great pity it is that Heikki is not here.

“When I think about the drivers that are here, they (team management) must be fools if they prefer them over Heikki,” he is quoted by the Finnish website mtv3.fi.

“I think Heikki is a high quality driver, very experienced and deserves a place,” the 2008 world champion added.


Gascoyne: Lack of ‘respect’ harmed Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen harmed his chances of staying in Formula One beyond 2012 by demonstrating a lack of “respect” to Caterham – that is the claim of Mike Gascoyne, the team’s former technical boss who now oversees the technical operations of the entire Caterham Group.

After three years at the back of the grid with Caterham, Finn Kovalainen – now managed by IMG – attempted to secure a better seat for 2013 but ultimately now faces dropping out of F1 altogether. Gascoyne confirmed speculation Caterham is considering replacing the 31-year-old with a so-called ‘pay driver’.

“We realise what the game is,” he told the motor sport news website crash.net. “People (teams) boom and bust easily. We have come in and done a very steady job compared to other new teams and have been professional, but we’ve taken a step back and said ‘Ok, we are not going to get there straight away, we need to manage our budgets, manage investment and build up our resources so we are here for the long term’,” Gascoyne said.

It is believed the favourites to become Frenchman Charles Pic’s teammate this year are Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna.

“It is actually a great shame,” Gascoyne said. “Heikki is a very talented driver but, last year, his management did not handle him very well and he has not done himself any favours. He has had three years with Caterham, was paid well, and he should have shown more respect about that.”


Kovalainen: Caterham to use 2012 chassis next season

Heikki Kovalainen claims Caterham is planning to use its current chassis as the basis for the 2013 car.

It is expected the salaried Finn will be pushed out of the team for 2013 by ‘pay drivers’ Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.

Asked by the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat how he expects Caterham to go next season, Kovalainen said: “It’s hard to say.

“But when the team has decided to continue with the same chassis for the new car, it may not be a good sign,” said the 31-year-old, who as Caterham’s lead driver has failed to score a single point since the team’s inception in 2010.

Glock: Caterham should keep Kovalainen

Timo Glock, Marussia’s lead driver, has urged rival team Caterham to keep Heikki Kovalainen.

Caterham is expected to replace Vitaly Petrov’s Russian millions next year with the well-backed Frenchman Charles Pic, who currently is Glock’s teammate at Marussia. But with Marussia currently placed tenth in the constructors’ championship, Caterham stands to lose its projected $20 million in Concorde Agreement earnings, according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. That has endangered Finn Kovalainen’s seat, who like Glock is actually paid to drive.

If Caterham cannot win back tenth and the reported $20m, boss Tony Fernandes is apparently considering ‘pay drivers’ Giedo van der Garde or Bruno Senna to replace Kovalainen.

German Glock said: “If the difference between tenth and eleventh is really worth $20 million to Caterham, I’d rather have an experienced driver who can protect that tenth place for me. No pay-driver brings that much money,” he argued.


Kovalainen still waiting for Caterham’s ‘pay driver’ decision

Caterham boss Tony Fernandes has admitted he “cannot discount going down the pay-driver route” for 2013, according to a report in the Guardian.

That would be bad news for Heikki Kovalainen, who already admitted in India last weekend that financial issues are clouding his future.

The main problem is that Caterham is currently sitting eleventh in the constructors’ world championship, meaning that Marussia is the backmarker team looking most likely to scoop the millions in extra Concorde Agreement earnings. Finn Kovalainen, whilst highly rated by Fernandes, brings no sponsorship to Caterham.

“Whether that’s the deciding factor or not, I don’t know,” he said on Wednesday.

Fernandes’ alternative to Kovalainen is a driver who can bring sponsorship, such as Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, who has recently been driving for the team in Friday morning practices. It has meant Kovalainen, who turned 31 recently, has also had to go onto the driver market.

“We are looking, of course,” he told The National newspaper. “I’m not stressed about it.”

However, Kovalainen admitted it is a “possibility” Fernandes will have to replace the lost Concorde earnings with the sponsorship of a pay-driver.

“It’s a big deal for the team,” he said. “They know that I don’t bring money — they need to pay me, that’s what I do. If my hands are not good enough here then that’s how it is, but I don’t ever really fancy looking for money,” added Kovalainen.

Kovalainen facing Caterham axe to pay-driver

Heikki Kovalainen has admitted it is possible he will lose his Caterham seat at the end of the season.

Although the Finn is highly regarded by the Tony Fernandes-led team, Caterham is facing up to the prospect of losing millions in projected Concorde Agreement earnings, due to losing tenth place in the lucrative constructors’ championship standings to Marussia. When asked specifically about his future, Kovalainen answered in India: “For our team it’s quite important that we try to regain that tenth position back.

“So, the main focus is on that and regarding the future with the team and with Tony, we haven’t decided yet,” he revealed. “I think Tony knows what he gets with me but then he’s evaluating other options I think to see what he wants to do. And I’m waiting.

“In the meantime, of course, my management is also working.”

The implication is clear: if Caterham’s budget falls short due to the lost Concorde earnings, the team will be tempted to replace the money with a ‘pay driver’.

Marussia’s well-funded Charles Pic has been linked with a 2013 Caterham seat, as has Giedo van der Garde, who took over Kovalainen’s car in first practice in India on Friday.

Kovalainen is quoted by Turun Sanomat newspaper: “He (Fernandes) has to decide whether to have two drivers who bring budget with them, or (to keep) me. I do not bring any money,” he clarified. “Tony has not told me directly what he intends to do.”


Jordan: Kovalainen wants to leave Caterham

Heikki Kovalainen is unhappy and wants to quit Caterham according to Eddie Jordan, the former F1 team owner and boss who recently corrected predicted that Lewis Hamilton would move to Mercedes next year, pushing Michael Schumacher back into retirement.

Now, he thinks Finn Kovalainen is ready to leave Caterham after three years with the 2010 startup.

Kovalainen, 30, said in Korea on Saturday: “At some point … I’m getting old and if I want to be successful and win races, I have to look at the options. We should be doing better than what we’re doing. At the moment, we don’t have any deals (for 2013) with everyone. We’re talking.”

Jordan commented on BBC television: “For me, that’s the first time I’ve seen Heikki’s body language tell us emphatically that he wants out of there.

“He wants to move on and get in a better team before his career finishes.”