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 “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.”


Former driver da Matta slams Gascoyne

Former F1 driver Cristiano da Matta has slammed well-known F1 engineer Mike Gascoyne.

In 2003, Gascoyne – who currently heads the technical side at Caterham – joined the now-defunct Toyota outfit, whose driver at the time was Brazilian da Matta. Before the end of the following season, da Matta – who subsequently returned to American open wheel racing and was seriously injured in a 2006 Champ Car crash – was ousted.

So how did da Matta’s F1 career really end?

“I don’t know if I can say this,” the 39-year-old told Brazil’s Totalrace, “but in the end the big problem was Mike Gascoyne. He joined the team earning a lot (of money), but every new thing he did, we just got worse, not better.”

History recounts that Toyota ousted da Matta not only for a lack of performance, but because he was verbally critical of the car’s technical direction. Gascoyne also split with Toyota, early in 2006, reportedly due to technical differences with the former Cologne based team.

“Now comes the gossip,” da Matta continued. “In 2005, when I had returned to Indy, I was in Long Beach and I saw a guy wearing a Toyota shirt. I thought, ‘What is this guy doing here?’ He came to me and said, ‘Da Matta-San. I’m here on behalf of Toyota. The things you said in the past were right’.

“I told him I was happy even if the news had come late, but that I liked the respect that he had for my work.”


Gascoyne rates Button over Hamilton

If Caterham’s Mike Gascoyne was in the market for a McLaren driver, he would sign Jenson Button.

The green-clad team’s technical boss, Gascoyne, was at Renault in 2002 when it was decided to oust Button in favour of Fernando Alonso. But a decade on, Gascoyne says the tables have now turned, as 2009 world champion Button now heads the 2012 points standings for McLaren.

“We weren’t wrong (to replace Button), Fernando won two titles very quickly, but Jenson has developed into a hell of a driver,” Gascoyne is quoted by the UK Express newspaper.

He said Button’s advantage over Lewis Hamilton, his highly rated teammate, is his mental strength.

“The difference right now is that Jenson can handle it when Lewis wins, but Lewis really struggles when Jenson does,” said Gascoyne.

Another of Button’s strengths, he explained, is his smooth driving style, which better conserves Pirelli’s highly-degrading tyres.

“Lewis is struggling to match that and then with his attacking style, the more aggression he puts in the harder it gets for him in the race,” said Gascoyne.

Comparing today’s Button with the 22-year-old of 2002, Gascoyne concluded: “Jenson is still the same nice guy, same talent, but mentally so very strong. Right now, Jenson would be the man for me.”

In an interview with Spanish agency EFE, Pedro de la Rosa summed up Button with the words “finesse and intelligence”.