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” A tragedy” – Valsecchi angry at Lotus’ decision to hire Kovalainen over him
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Nov 2013   |  12:52 pm GMT  |  271 comments

In all the drama of the 11th hour arrival at the Austin circuit yesterday of Heikki Kovalainen, there were strong words from Lotus’ reserve driver Davide Valsecchi, who was passed over for the promotion.

GP2 champion Valsecchi has attended every race this year in Lotus colours, waiting for the chance to drive the car, but when the opportunity presented itself, with the injury to Kimi Raikkonen, the team went for Kovalainen.

The Italian was called by team principal Eric Boullier on Wednesday and given the news. They went with Kovalainen because of his greater race experience in F1 and his recent Friday practice experience with Caterham.

Valsecchi did not hide his disappointment when speaking to Italian media yesterday,

“It’s a huge blow to me,” he said. “From the sporting point of view it’s a tragedy. It makes me angry to have lost the battle with Kovalainen who is not a great champion, not even an active driver; his last results were five years ago.

“If they had taken Hulkenberg I could have understood, even Maldonado, but this…

“I was sure that from the point of view of motivation and desire to achieve, the team would have taken me and I would have been right up there.

“Perhaps I lack experience but what chance do you have to gain any? Nevertheless, things change quickly in F1, so I won’t give up and I will be ready if they need me in Brazil.”

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Disappointed for Valsecchi. I feel his frustration, and his comments are understandable, if undiplomatic. But the folks in the know seem to think that Kovalainen’s experience will provide a better chance of a points haul at this crucial time in the season, especially with the money at stake for the teams. Also recall that when another inexperienced driver, D’Ambrosio, subbed for the suspended Grosjean in 2012, although he brought the car home, he scored no points. As it turns out, Kovalainen did not score at Austin either.


It’s too bad that Heikki didn’t convert his excellent qualifying performance into points, but at the same time that people are arguing that Lotus erred in selecting him and that Valsecchi would surely have performed better, one could make an equally ridiculous argument that at least Kovalainen didn’t crash and destroy the car and also ruin some other drivers’ race…

In the end, it’s pointless to argue counter-factualized F1 performance-hypotheticals when the only race result anyone can swear to are those that have already been recorded! And by that account, Kovalainen remains undisputedly the better choice of driver…


so back in 2007, in Dennis shoes, you’d have hired Dela Rosa instead o Hamilton?



Grosjean 2nd, Kovalainen 15th.

Smililar underwhelming performance as in his McLaren days.

Will team principals never learn?

They must surely give Valsecchi the nod in Brazil.


How would having Valsecchi in the car magically have kept the front wing producing the same downforce and driveability sensations as during Quali, thereby not necessitating the team pit HK to change it, and how would this have also kept the KERS from failing?

Lotus makes it clear that your Valsecchi isn’t their man, and HK is going to Brazil and will be working w/ his engineers to analyze and understand the data from USGP:


>>HKOVA: “It was difficult to know exactly what was going on, as it felt like I just started losing front grip. We had issues with downforce so we changed the front wing and after that it was much better, although still not as good as it had felt previously this weekend. I’m not sure if it was the car or if the driver was just a little rusty! There was a KERS issue too about halfway through the race, though not enough to account for my lack of race pace. We’ll have a good look at the data and hopefully be on top of things far better for the race in Brazil.”

>>source: http://www.lotusf1team.com/2013-United-States-GP-Heikki-Kovalainen-Sunday-Interview.html

I don’t think people fail to understand Valsecchi’s frustration and disappointment, but his lack of diplomacy in publicly insulting his new Lotus teammate while questioning the capabilities of the team’s leaders (who also manage his career, literally) undermines the very potential you are so convinced he possesses. Disingenuity isn’t |that| effective and arguing that the team principals are ignorant/stupid (“Will team principals never learn?”) is a bit…well, it stinks! Do you also make the same criticisms of Caterham for employing KOVA in a specific capacity previously this season?

I think it would be better just to say that you’re upset for Valsecchi that he’s not getting to drive, rather than speak derogatorily of a grand prix-winning driver and his new employer & team leader!


Heikki was 11th when accused misterious front wing issues, you know you can loose your job when a lot of bucks are floating and you loose it by a wrong call, especially when dueling for 2nd position in a cash stripped team. not talking about Heikki, of course.

Heikki’s F\W wasn’t visually damaged.


Hilarious. They’ll probably revoke his superlicence for saying what he thinks.


It’s quite simple, really. If I was a team owner fighting for constructors’ standings with 2 races to go, would I pick the 2012 GP2 champion, or a driver who can (very) calmly ask a marshal for a fire extinguisher to douse his burning racecar (which he had also very calmly parked in a safe spot, and climbed out of, before it was engulfed in flames)?

Nerves of steel, folks.


Certainly Valsecchi should be disappointed by the Lotus decision and yes he will have also been expected to comment, but to have such disparaging comments toward Kovalainen was totally uncalled for.

Could it be that his apparent sense of entitlement and seemingly impetuous attitude are the exact reasons why Lotus went to the steady hand of Kovy instead of him?


good point(S). hadn’t considered the fireman aspect – just the incendiary nature of Valsecchi’s comments. Did he ever apologize, btw? Too bad Heikki couldn’t convert 8th to points. oh well.


oops. that comment was meant for Chris Chong #107, but I agree w/ you too.


8th for Kovi… Lol

That’s probably the best Kimi could have done. Now if he can pick up places like Kimi, that’ll make the race worth watching.


Kimi with short wheel-base car would have got about 5th or better. He did that in his last race.


I think better as he was finally coming to grips with the tyres over one lap.he was quicker than Romain before the quali penalty in Abu Dhabi. Which means he probably was a chance at a P3..


““If they had taken Hulkenberg I could have understood, even Maldonado, but this…”

Glad someone spoke sense. Heikki is no good driver, not even comparable to average drivers.

John in San Diego

Kovalainen may not be top tier, but he is both a GP2 and F1 winner, and he has current experience.


A wee but harsh and he’s already proved his mettle to some extent..


Management of Lotus team is a joke. Not sure if they will even make it to the grid next year.


Totally understandable reaction from Davide. But unfortunately this business is about as much about risk management as it is about personalities.

Any right minded team principal would have made this call. Heikki is not the fastest driver in F1 but he has great experience and has driven a current car. We all saw last year at Monza during Grosjeans suspension that a good reserve driver on the grid for the first time is a struggle to make P12. An experienced driver is at least a chance at top 10and every point right now is worth millions. It could be that Heikki fails but at least he has less risk and more chance at big points than Davide.

It’s only human to feel cheated by this but on the flip side it would be a tremendous risk for Davide himself.. If he failed what then happens to his position at Lotus not to mention his F1 career ??. It’s tremendous pressure for a rookie to come into such a spotlight and therefore the slightest shortfall could be viewed as the biggest failure.

Maybe Davide is trying to mirror the Iceman persona but he is not Kimi just yet. & all he’s managed to do is spurr Heikki on to a very Good Friday.


Valsecchi just documented the depths of his organizational immaturity. And likely secured his exit from F1.

Heikki is a pretty solid choice for Lotus. I would like to see him make the best of it.


It seems pointless having a reserve driver all season and not use him when needed!


Agree with Valsecchi,(minus the Kovalainen sledge) love how he speaks his mind even though he has never even raced in F1.

He’s just the charater that F1 needs, Kimi has taught him well this season.

James do you know who Valsecchi’s manager is?


“James do you know who Valsecchi’s manager is?”

Valsecchi himself said during SKYF1 interview that his managers = “lotus team bosses” or something to that effect…so Eric B & Co.? or the Genii guys?


Frankly, I know very little about GP2. I watch the occasional race (read: the occasional race plays when I can’t be arsed to change the channel after watching the F1 stuff on Sky), so I can recall at the beginning of the year noticing that while the GP2 champion, Valsecchi, only had a reserve driver position, several of the runner up positions below him had F1 drives.

Perhaps that was something to do with his taking 5 years in the feeder series, and the others perhaps taking less seasons to show their mettle.

Also, interesting that Martin Whitmarsh pulled Kevin Magnussen out of a GP2 test, saying it was inferior to Renault 3.5.

Has GP2’s reputation declined?


Silly boy he will end up burning his bridges with the team. Of course it was logical to put a decent (carefully thought out) driver in when 3rd or even possibly 2nd spot is still at stake we are talking absolute millions in difference to the tune you could sign the best 2 drivers on the grid easily + some!


I hope Lotus will dump this tenderfoot for good. I mean, what he really expected? He thinks that only a great champion is justifiend supersede his greatness?

He is nothing but tiny spoon-fed brad obviously needing some proper spanking…


Am I the only one concerned that we are spendings hours discussing if that team did that is it right or not ? or that this driver is better but has trouble keeping tyres ? or he was given a drive through because his 4 tyres went out was too harsh but …. ? We should be talking about epic battles for first place , or that somebody consistently skid out of every corner to catch his rival, or that Mr x crossed the flag with a flat tyre because he refused to stop. Formula 1 is becoming more and more like a computer game, with NO RISKS, NO REAL EMOTION , NO REAL HUMAN HEROES. Like the american say IT HAS BECOME POLITICALLY CORRECT BUT ALSO INFINITELY BORING. James I use capital letters for enphasis , no disrispet meant whatsoever.


As I have often said, F1 these days is *not about innovation, *not about winning.

Its about not *losing.


Can understand his frustration – and I get where people are coming from when they welcome drivers talking openly rather than in ‘corporate speak’ – but to criticise heikki personally and publicly like that just isn’t classy.


Really well put. We all appreciate drivers speaking out of the confines of the media script but to disrespect other drivers (especially those who have achieved much more than him) is pig headed and dumb.


This made me look back at the history of GP2.

* Valsecchi was champion after his 5th full season. Had only scored one podium in feature races in his first two seasons.

* Kovalainen was 2nd in the championship in his first (and only) season. He scored 4 wins and 8 podiums in feature races that year.

So Mr Valsecchi I’m afraid your GP2 title is no match to Heikki’s runner-up campaign…


I think he spoke well. actually spoke his mind.

but kovy bashing is a little extreme…

welcome to the world of f1

Tornillo Amarillo

VALSECCHI is arrogant (PEREZ). lol


Very interesting comments on this development!

Part of my job is hiring people to work for me. I have junior engineers that are trying to make the step up to senior engineers. I will have no hesitation in hiring an external person over an established internal person despite how long they have been with the company. Sometimes this ‘upsets’ the person being overlooked – I know because it has happened to me too. So you can either lash out or focus on getting better. Lashing out will only hurt your chances of a seat and people seem to forget that Lewis had all the new parts that Heikki didn’t have during his time at McLaren. He’ll deliver a solid finish I have no doubt.


Interesting comment!

So you’d pay a junior engineer to sit in a corner doing nothing and then hire an external professional because the former ‘lacked experience’. . . ?!


No, I pay him to do his/her job. If they feel they are above their job they can happily find employment elsewhere.

Obviously I’d rather this didn’t happen because you lose your personal investment and detailed company knowledge they have acquired.

If Valsecchi feels that his time in the Simulator, driver briefings, circuit walks young driver testing etc etc isn’t worth it, he knows which way the door is.



I’m glad you acknowledge that his ‘management have failed him’.

They have simply constrained him to ‘crawling’ and not allowed him to ‘prove his mettle’ – thus making the act of ‘working harder’ a self-defeating exercise.

The real issue is that Lotus failed their prematurely-departed 2013 lead driver as well – and no-one could accuse him of not ‘working hard enough’. I guess the latter is now happily armchair-ensconced recovering from a ‘watch-your-back’ problem.


@Dan: Potential being the key word you mentioned. Thus his potential is greater than his current ability. Everyone must crawl before they walk and Valsecci must remember he is a small part of a big team. Play the team game, support the team decision, work harder to prove your mettle. It is extremely difficult to do mind and that is where his management have failed him. I have no doubt there are many Engineering Managers on here like me who see exactly why Lotus did that they did and agree with it. And then there are the people who make armchair decisions who can’t see the bigger picture.


If ‘pay him to do his/her job’ implies constraining a skilled graduate or technician to engage in work beneath their potential then obviously the fault lies with management.


Understand why he’s upset but Kovy is the right choice with places at stake in the Constructor’s championship.


Frank, James… in response

There are similarities in the mega billion buck industry of aviation where young pilots fly for free just to get hours and experience and are essentially taken advantage of during that period…..so F1 and its mini circus is not alone. It does’nt make it right though does it……..

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