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Kovalainen to replace Raikkonen at Lotus for final two races
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Nov 2013   |  3:03 pm GMT  |  128 comments

Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen will replace Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus for the final two races of the season, starting with this weekend’s United States Grand Prix in Austin.

Raikkonen, who will race for Ferrari next year, is unavailable to drive after choosing to undergo surgery for a recurring back problem.

For one-time race winner Kovalainen, 32, it marks a return to the team where he started his Formula 1 career, when the outfit were known at Renault.

It was important that Lotus signed a driver with Formula 1 experience as they are in a tight battle with Mercedes and Ferrari for second place in the constructors’ championship.

The team’s test driver Davide Valsecchi, who won last year’s GP2 championship, has driven the 2013 car twice this season, but his race weekend experience is limited to just one Friday practice session a couple of years ago.

Team boss Eric Boullier said, “Obviously we had to move quickly following the news of Kimi’s non-participation in the final two races of this season, and we found ourselves facing a difficult decision in terms of who should take the wheel in Austin and São Paulo. On the one hand we had our reserve driver Davide Valsecchi – who is a talented young driver that has shown a great deal of promise – and on the other we had the opportunity to bring in a seasoned Formula 1 competitor in Heikki.

“Whilst we have every faith in Davide’s abilities, we are obviously involved in a tight Constructors’ Championship battle, so it was decided that the experience Heikki could bring to the team would be invaluable.”

Nico Hulkenberg, who is a contender for the full-time race seat next season, is understood to have turned down the seat, instead choosing to finish the season with Sauber. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher was also sounded out, but he too rejected the chance of a second comeback.

So the team turned to Kovalainen, with 110 starts and four podiums under his belt. The Finn made his debut in 2007, replacing Fernando Alonso at Renault before joining McLaren in 2008 where he claimed his one and only victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

He moved to Tony Fernandes’ Lotus Racing team in 2010, and though he lost his drive this season, he has taken part in a number of Friday practice sessions for the outfit now known as Caterham.

* Meanwhile McLaren has confirmed that Kevin Magnussen will drive alongside Jenson Button next season.

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Quite interesting to see Heki do so well all things considered, what’s the bets with the new team funding and if he delivers well tomorrow and in Brazil that he gets offered a seat at Lotus??


Did Ferrari know about this operation when they signed Kimi ? All sports have medical fitnees clauses that trump any other clause ? What happens if from the medical point he is not 100 % well after this intervention ? Formula 1 is contradictory ,on one side high tech , on the other side management with very low standards, with one or two exceptions, RBR having the best of both worlds.


Lewis has always been close to Nico


Good luck to him. Good driver, deserves a seat on the grid somewhere.


I can’t believe they actually asked Schumacher to fill Kimis seat! If they can’t afford to pay their lead driver for an entire season what on earth makes them think they can hire the 7x world champion?


Gross optimism 😉


great news for Heikki to show he still has it. bad news for him if he doesn’t.


“110 starts and four podiums”

I know he had a tough time at McLaren, but that’s worse than I remember; one of those podiums was for Renault too…


Hamilton and Massa had problems that race. Massa was cruising to the win before his engine quenched. Kova never won a race on actual merit at Macca


And his win came after Massa retired from the lead!


That’s called racing.

Thread the Needle

What a chance to kick start his career again, hopefully he can take it


What are the chances of Kovi getting a podium in those 2 races, if he can adapt quickly….. what would happen then…..?


what would happen then? He’d be given some Champagne by the race organizers and get to speak to whoever is doing the podium interview, as per usual protocol 🙂


Surprised that you did not have a reply to @31 and the potential load issues.


This is all good but this highlights again the plight of third/test drivers in F1. From the team’s point of view, it is understandable that they want to get maximum points in the next two races.

There is no guarantee that Heikki will score any points as he is a bit rusty. But the team clearly showed they don’t have enough faith in a young driver which is not very good for Davide’s future.


F1 could have sorely done with a Schumacher cameo to spice these non-championship races. It would also be poetic to have seen him truly end his career where it all began at Enstone (brief spell at Jordan excluded).

I guess Bernie was too tied up with his court case to make it happen.


Good for him! Now, 1 or 4 time winner 😉


Will be good to see how he does. Good luck to Heikki.

I just love the Rumour that Ferrari paid nico’s outstanding salary to block him driving for lotus. The twists and turns of the driver moves are so much more entertaining than the racing recently.


Can they pay Kimi’s salary for this year as well?


Looks like cyborg on this picture, doesn’t he? 🙂


*knock knock*

Do you know a…forget it, too predictable 😉


Great to see kov back thought he did an outstanding job at caterham at times


Heikki Kovalainen 3rd choice for this drive (that we know off), used to drive for 2 big teams, doesn’t anymore. Don’t expect big things boys and girls.


Hi James,

Any truth to the rumor that Ferrari paid Hulkenberg to NOT drive for Renault?

See link: http://www.blogf1.it/2013/11/13/vi-sveliamo-perche-hulkenberg-non-sostituira-raikkonen/


Err….Lotus I mean…


Meh, same diff.


Good move – Heikki knows that this is his final shot. He knows he was too conservative at McLaren and will at least give it a real go. I have a feeling he might impress over the coming weeks. I certainly hope so.


At least Lotus won;t have to paint a new flag on the side of the car, and will be able to use up their bulk purchase of letters “k” and “n”. ;_)


Yes, when Finns are around, a good supply of k’s and n’s is essential.


Cost-cutting taken to extremes lol 🙂


Obviously the best choice,they could make. He will normally berelatively quick out of the box, and wont need much time to,adapt to his new team. Also,a very good chance for him to show what he is worth, cause his challenge will be to score points, even big points when possible. He if manages to do that, it will do him good in his quest for a race drive next season. A clever move from both sides. I would have loved to see Michael coming back once again to have further ground to assess his abilities to adapt and be quick, though


DV should have got the seat for the final two GP. It doesnt matter financially, with Kimi out they dont have a prayer of catching Ferrari or Mercedes now. No driver can get up to speed and deliver podiums after a year out and driving a totally different car.

At least Davide was familiar with the team, the steering wheel, the processes during the race weekend etc. Plus he deserved a chance having been GP2 champ in 2012.

What’s the purpose of having a reserve driver if when needed, the team call on somebody else?


Colour me a conspiracy theorist but I can’t help but feel that something smells here. Kimi han’t beed paid this year for his contracted services to Lotus. Lotus are in a tight 3 way battle for 2nd place in the championship; 1 of the other contenders being Ferrari, the team to which Kimi moves next year.

Is Kimi just doing his best to give Lotus the shaft in this championship battle by opting out when Lotus needs him most? He’s got grounds for feeling bitter and the back issue makes a plausible legal arguement for failing to fulfil his contract terms.



Ummm, what contract? Surely that was torn up when Lotus failed to pay Kimi. All other clauses instantly become null and void! Cool move by Kimi, I say. Oh, and what colour is a conspiracy theorist? I will get the paint. I agree, I think Ferrari might have sweetened Kimi’s contract by covering some of his lost pay this year NOT to drive for Lotus in the final 2 races.


“what colour is a conspiracy theorist?”

Depends how many computer screens they’re looking at at any given time 😉


Problems with Lotus notwithstanding, Kimi has little more to gain this year by racing the last two races and much more to gain in the long run by getting surgery asap. If that also helps Ferrari beat Lotus in the WCC, that is just gravy on top for him next year.

Tornillo Amarillo

HA-HA, IMO wrong decision by Lotus: they should have chosen VALSECCHI. Otherwise, what is the idea of having a reserve driver??

Who should replace RAIKKONEN early in 2014… if they need it? If there is a true back pain now…


Surgery went yesterday without complications

Tornillo Amarillo

Thanks, I would like to know which kind, some details or link. There are really different kinds of “back pain”.


Intresting they’ve decided that Heikki (who was often beaten by Petrov last year, and who looked very average on pace in FP1’s earlier this year) is a better prospect than a GP2 champ who’s been in the simulator all year, but there you go!

Can’t wait to see Magnussen next year. I was stood at Copse on the first day of Silverstone testing this year and his commitment was noticable above all the other drivers. I was so impressed I took a few videos of him on my phone! Didn’t bother with anyone else!


What’s this? An Aussie replaces an Aussie at RB; and now a Finn replacing another Finn at Lotus.

Do they really think that F1 fans can’t tell the difference between one helmeted driver from the other.

I’ll be cheering for Barrichello at Williams. Or is that Massa? I’m getting confused.


Brilliant – it’s so far fetched it could be very true.


Hang on…by that logic when Vettel leaves RBR then Hulk is a shoe-in…I’ve decided I like your theory! 😀

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