Kovalainen, Rosberg and Sutil in running for ’08 McLaren drive

Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, Interlagos, 2007 | Steven Tee / LAT PhotographicLewis Hamilton has named the three drivers he thinks is most likely to be offered the seat alongside him at McLaren next season.

Ashed who would drive alongside him next year Hamilton said: “[Nico] Rosberg, [Adrian] Sutil or [Heikki] Kovalainen. The most important thing is that he is a team player.”

The trio from Williams, Spyker and Renault respectively are, like Hamilton, relative newcomers to the sport, only one of which has more F1 experience than he does.

Heikki Kovalainen

Surely the top contender, Kovalainen would be Ron Dennis’s third Finnish driver in seven years, following Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen.

Moreover, it would allow a straight swap with Renault for the outgoing Fernando Alonso.

But Renault boss (and Kovalainen’s manager) Flavio Briatore has indicated that Alonso would only be looking for a one-year contract with Renault, and would not want to face going into 2009 with neither Alonso nor Kovalainen

Both have beaten Renault incumbent Giancarlo Fisichella with little difficulty. Having said that, he does have the promising Nelson Piquet Jnr waiitng in the wings.

Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, Interlagos, 2007 | Andrew Ferraro / LAT PhotographicMcLaren has not had a German driver throughout its 13-year association with Mercedes-Benz, so there’s clearly no pressure from that side.

Rosberg impressed mightily in his second season of F1, however, and is a friend of Hamilton’s and a former team mate of his from when the pair were in karting.

But Rosberg might not be cheap to extract from his current surroundings – he is currently contracted to Williams and coveted by Toyota.

Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil, Spyker, Interlagos, 2007 | Spyker / EgmondAnother German, and perhaps a surprise to see mentioned in line with a McLaren drive after a rookie season that could be most charitably described as competent with occasional flashes of promise.

But Hamilton and Sutil were team mates in the F3 Euroseries two years ago when Hamilton decimated the opposition. A grateful Sutil could be counted upon not to rock the boat.

Photos: Steven Tee / LAT Photographic | Andrew Ferraro / LAT Photographic | Spyker / Egmond

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27 comments on Kovalainen, Rosberg and Sutil in running for ’08 McLaren drive

  1. Vertigo said on 4th November 2007, 14:44

    Sutil might be a better option for McLaren than he seems as Rosberg and Kovalainen are both potential world title contenders. Sutil isn’t, and he’d be ecstatic to get a drive at a top team, so ecstatic he would do exactly what McLaren wanted as long as Hamilton is no. 1 at McLaren. Rosberg and Kovalainen would want to be treated equally. Also, Keke probably wouldn’t want Nico thrown into a team that now belongs to Hamilton, and Flav will be the same with Heikki.

  2. To be honest, we should all remember that McLaren will always have an equal driver policy. Both have the chance to win. But they rarely are risky enough to have to drivers who can win. Ron was burnt before, don’t pretend this situation was new to him. He was told to keep his team equal before Max. But Ron probably didn’t expect Lewis to be as good as he was, nobody did…

    I think that if the obvious happens and there is a straight swap with Kovi then great for McLaren. If it doesn’t work out I think Ratboy is right and we’ll see McLaren again promote from within with Paffet. He’s reliable, he’s loyal, and Ron can always count on his manager (Martin Brundle) to remind him which way his bread is buttered. So if Alonso doesn’t go to Renault expect the musical chairs to stop with somebody famous without a seat.

  3. My candidate to add to this list would be Robert Kubica. I think he showed some real skill during the 2007 season and would have done much better had he a better car.

    I must say Sutil never showed me much of anything.

  4. Journeyer said on 5th November 2007, 2:05

    But BMW will never let go of Kubica. I’m sure they will want him to spearhead a title run or three within the next 5 years.

    Sutil has shown flashes of brilliance, while having the occasional error… much like a certain Fernando Alonso in a Minardi back in 2001.

  5. Raging Bull said on 5th November 2007, 3:39

    My bet is on Sutil as i think it would be a stupid move for HK or NR to become Lewis’s no.2

  6. LH & Paffet? Great if we want to see McLaren failing again. They couldn’t get it with a two times champion and a AAA class rookie…

  7. sassan said on 5th November 2007, 12:02

    I don’t mind Rosberg but Kovalainen is Finnish and mclaren have had finnish drivers in the past. Hakkinen, Keke Rosberg and of course Raikonen .And plus i want williams to be with the frontrunners again.

  8. for me i hope that Kovalainen gets the drive..i think it would be a good line up with those two….and of course their is also the finnish connection of course

  9. What about de la rosa. He could be a clear #2, and he can develope the car, and help hamilton become world champion. May be this option is over, counting his poor showing last year, and the situation, with the e-mails,in 07.
    Any bmw driver, either heidfeld, or kubica, could be another option, and leave a seat for alonso over there.
    Kovalainen, only if alonso goes to renault, and this is not clear at the moment.

  10. I have revised my Paffet reasoning – One should never forget the “It’s Never Two Brits” rule.

  11. My pick would be either Rosberg or Kovaleinen – both have so much potential.

    Jose – I personally wouldn’t have De La Rosa. After the Spygate debacle, he’s probably lucky to still be part of the team at all, let alone be a possible for a race seat. I also can’t see him being a back- up for Hamilton as he’s stated recently that he’s sure he could have done as good a job as him if he’d had the same equipment.

  12. Rosberg has a contract with Williams so McLaren will need to spend $$$ in order to sign him (and they have to pay a huge fine too).

    Besides, I can’t see another “star” for the second McLaren seat. They tried it in 2007 and it failed.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they get Ralf or De la Rosa.

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