Lotus set to announce Kovalainen as Raikkonen replacement for USA and Brazil
13 November, 2013
Lotus is poised to announce Heikki Kovalainen as the short term replacement for surgery sidelined Kimi Raikkonen for the last two races of 2013.
It emerged earlier that the Enstone based team, despite having last year’s GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi as its reserve driver, had made an offer to Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Hulkenberg turned it down, but it was a clear sign that Italian Valsecchi was not in fact the obvious favourite for the role, as Lotus tries desperately to improve its position in the lucrative constructors’ championship despite Raikkonen’s exit.
Team boss Eric Boullier told the Italian website blogFormula 1.it: “We are fighting for third place in the constructors’ championship so we need a driver with experience who is used to the struggle of winning points.
“I’m not saying that Davide doesn’t deserve a chance, because he has done a great job and we are pleased with him. But he lacks the experience,” Boullier added.
Sources within Lotus claim Kovalainen will shortly be announced by Lotus as Raikkonen’s replacement for the last two grands prix of 2013.
“Heikki has been waiting for something like this,” fellow Finn Mika Salo told MTV3 this week, “and if I was a team boss, I would take him rather than Valsecchi.”
Kovalainen made his grand prix debut as a Renault driver in 2007 – when the team was run from the same Enstone factory – and since then he has made 109 Formula 1 race starts. He scored his one and only grand prix victory in Hungary in 2008 driving for McLaren.
His last grand prix was in Brazil in 2012, driving for Caterham for whom he has done FP1 duty on several occasions this year. (GMM)