Kovalainen doesn’t want to be a pay driver

F1 Fanatic round-up

Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, Interlagos, 2012In the round-up: Heikki Kovalainen says he has told his management team not to look for money to support his F1 career.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Kovalainen rules out becoming a ‘pay driver’ (Reuters)

“We are looking at other options… but even the other options require some money, teams asking for money, and I don’t want to go that route.”

Kamui Support (Japanese)

Kamui Kobayashi has set up a website where his fans can contribute to support his racing career after losing his seat at Sauber.

Esteban Gutierrez: “I don?t know if I am ready yet” (Adam Cooper’s F1 Blog)

“To be honest I don?t know if I’m ready yet. I think when I?m going to be living the position of being an F1 driver next season, then I?m going to know if I was ready or not! But definitely I feel that I was comfortable to do the next step in my career.”

Sergio Perez Q&A: I?m ready for the pressures of McLaren (F1)

“In Japan I made a mistake and in Korea we had an issue with the pit stop. Abu Dhabi saw the contact with Grosjean. It was not my fault so I don?t understand why I got a penalty there. And at the last race in Austin it looked okay but then I ran into problems with the brakes. So there you have it – various calamities which ruined my chances of a better position in the standings.”

Lewis Hamilton's helmet, McLaren, Interlagos, 2012Tearful Lewis Hamilton discusses McLaren exit (BBC)

“It was the most difficult call I’ve ever had to make because we’d grown so close and [Martin Whitmarsh] had been so supportive and I didn’t want to let people down. But at the end of the day you have to let people down sometimes to make decisions.”

Whitmarsh wants Lewis return (Sky)

“We’d have him back, yes. So let’s hope it’s just a gap year.”

Wasted: Hamilton says he left three world titles on the table at McLaren (The Mirror)

“Should I have had more championships? Absolutely. I feel I drove really well in 2007 and 2008, and in 2009 I was ready to do the same. 2010 was not bad. 2011 was not good so I don?t feel I deserved to win that year.”

Sauber’s poor pace concerns drivers (Autosport)

Sergio Perez: “The heat just doesn’t suit us,” he said. “I found the car difficult to drive this afternoon and I think some big changes are required. Let’s see how we can improve.”

F1 economic tally could take months to add up (Austin-American Statesman)

“Not everyone who attended the race had to purchase a ticket. Of the more than 110,000 tickets sold, track spokeswoman Ali Putnam said, 60 percent of the buyers were from outside Texas and the remainder were Texas residents. She said 15 percent of the ticket buyers came from 46 countries, primarily Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and a mix of Western European and Central/South American countries.”

La Ferrari per la gloria Alonso anche per i bonus (La Stampa, Italian)

La Stamps claims Fernando Alonso will receive a ??10m (??8m) bonus if he wins the drivers’ championship tomorrow.

Raging McLaren chief Dennis snubbed Hamilton’s goodbye party (Daily Mail)

“McLaren chairman Ron Dennis was the only notable absentee from Hamilton?s leaving function on the pool terrace of the Hilton hotel in Austin, Texas, last Saturday.”


Comment of the day

Many readers were disappointed to see Kobayashi lose his seat – a subject of a recent Comment of the Day – but @Hotbottoms was a dissenting voice:

I don?t get it why everyone?s so upset about Kobayashi losing his Sauber seat.

Sure, his debut drive in 2009 was promising and great entertainment and he?s also Japanese, but has he really proven enough to get his fourth full season in Formula One instead of a rookie getting his shot?

It?s true that Mexican money helped Gutierrez, but Sauber might’ve let Kobayashi go anyway. Or at least they chose Hulkenberg over him.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

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If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

It’s six years to the day since McLaren announced Lewis Hamilton would make his debut for them in F1 in 2007. Hamilton became the first rookie to start his first race with McLaren since Jan Magnussen 12 years earlier, and the first to start a new season with them since Michael Andretti in 1993.

However tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix will mark Hamilton’s last race for the team that gave him his F1 break.

Images ?? Caterham/LAT, McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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103 comments on Kovalainen doesn’t want to be a pay driver

  1. Rob Wilson (@rob-wilson) said on 24th November 2012, 8:28

    I can’t get my head round the growing fact that money is becoming more important than talent, it’s too devastating, so don’t bother trying, I just block it out and in my own fantasy world I still believe, and will always believe that the drivers on the Formula 1 grid are the fastest drivers in the world. I ignore the best I can the fact that some drivers are massively backed and some aren’t but I will just try to convince myself that Kobayashi and Kovalainen have had their time in F1 and because they havnt been magic all the time on the track, they won’t be in it anymore. Thinking its just down to money is terrible for the sport.

    • Enigma (@enigma) said on 25th November 2012, 11:09

      @rob-wilson It’s bad but at least we don’t get rubbish drivers paying for their seats. We get pretty good drivers with money. Maybe Formula 1 doesn’t have the best 24 drivers in the world, but it has the best 10 and the others are probably all in the top 40 or so.

  2. andae23 (@andae23) said on 24th November 2012, 10:18

    Only a week ago, I was thinking that Hamilton was fed up with McLaren and that he was happy to go to Mercedes. But then, as his final race for McLaren being tomorrow, he really starts letting his emotions go. And then Martin Whitmarsh is also regretting letting Hamilton go and hopes that he will return soon.

    This all seems very strange to me: I cannot remember the last time both the driver and the team regretted a transfer decision this soon. At least, I don’t know if Hamilton really regrets the decision, but saying that this weekend might be his last shot a victory in a long time, and being teareyed during an interview… that does speak for itself.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th November 2012, 11:51

      I think that maybe Hamilton’s reactions as a result of him finally realising what he is about to do. he knew what he was getting himself into when he signed for Mercedes. He knew what he was giving up by leaving McLaren. But he’s been with them for fourteen years – more than half his life – and it is a partnership that has worked. Moving to Brackley, even if it is just two hours away, is probably a lot like leaving home for the first time.

  3. Calum (@calum) said on 24th November 2012, 10:29

    If I was Kobayashi I would be going to Toyota and getting a WEC 2013 drive, I’d want a decent shot at a LeMans win and a supercar world championship if I couldn’t race F1.

  4. Dafffid (@dafffid) said on 24th November 2012, 12:25

    Some of these drivers should set up a Kickstarter campaign for a drive. If half a million fans throw in $2 each that would probably swing it for them to get a seat. I’m sure Kobi could find enough fervent fans in Japan to throw in a lot more than that. Why not? Money from fans is less ‘dirty’ than money from big business or corrupt governments. Then we’d see the drivers we think belong in Formula 1.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th November 2012, 12:43

      Who gets to drive in F1 should not be a popularity contest among the fans any more than it should be a popularity contest among sponsors. The 24 seats should go to the 24 best available drivers.

  5. montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 24th November 2012, 15:26

    Regarding COTD: Having a dissenting opinion just for the sake of being dissenting doesn’t make it a good or a well argumented opinion. There is no valid proof of KK “not having prooved himself”. Espesially when you compare him with Perez who’s going to Mclaren. What is it now? 10-9 in qualy and 66-58 in points? Yes, that’s enough to decide that one is worthy of a top team and another not worthy to be in F1, sure…

    I was watching FP3 today and the stupidity of it struck me again as KK and SP were the closest team-mates in the results separated by 2 thousandths of a second. Yes, it’s only FP3 but it’s somehow symbolic for this surreal situation

    • Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 24th November 2012, 17:18

      I don’t think there are many, who think Perez was a great choice for McLaren either.

      Apparently Sauber doesn’t value Kobayashi as highly as many F1Fanatics, since they chose Hülkenberg instead of him. At the moment Sauber has one spot marked for a Mexican, so the real choice was never between Gutierrez and Kobayashi, it was between Kobayashi and Hülkenberg. Had Perez stayed, Gutierrez wouldn’t be driving for Sauber next year.

      My comment was more like pondering than a statement. I don’t know what’s a “valid proof”, but it’s evident that Sauber doesn’t think Kobayashi has prooved himself. I’m not saying that he definetly should leave Formula One, I’m just saying that I can’t see a reason to be upset about Kobayashi losing his seat.

      But maybe I’ll quiet down now with my stupid comments ;)

      • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 25th November 2012, 2:36

        @hotbottoms Hulkenberg is probably better than both Perez and Kobayashi, true. He also has the best junior formulae record than any driver currently in F1 except Hamilton AFAIK. I neither argued with that anywhere in my post, nor I said that KK should’ve been kept to partner Gutierrez instead of the Hulk if he’s available at a reasonable cost. He should be driving that Mclaren next year, not Perez IMO.

        But you’re wrong in stating that evidently Sauber don’t value KK highly. Otherwise they would’ve came straight to him after Perez’s replacement by the Hulk, said goodbye and announced Gutierrez for next year. Instead they came to him and asked if he can bring some money. Evidently that means they wanted him to stay. But in the end they chose to bank in on Telmex money, even if they know it may cost them huge amount of money next in points they could lose. It’s a stupid decision IMO as was proven this year by Williams who haven’t signed Kimi, but I can’t blame Sauber for being cautious in their current situation

        To summarize, the fact that Sauber chose to sign the Hulk+a money bag doesn’t mean they don’t value KK. Kobayashi has proven himself worthy of his seat by his results. And yes, it’s very upsetting when Carlos Slim decides who’s driving for Sauber and not Sauber themselves. Just illustrates that they’re in bad shape financially sadly.

        Remember what happened in 2001? An annoying representative of a very rich sponsor had tried to badger Peter Sauber into signing his protege, whose results in junior formulae, by the way, were not dissimilar to Gutierrez’ . But Sauber instead told him his sponsorship isn’t required anymore and signed a rookie with only 23 car races in F.Renault under his belt. Do you need me to name the protagonists? :)
        So yes, I see reasons to be upset both for KK personally and F1 in general. Hence, the “stupidity” I spoke of. I meant the stupidity of this whole situation not of your comment.

  6. Much as I appreciate where he’s coming from, and I don’t like F1 seats being decided on money any more than anyone else, the fact that inevitably that Will be one of the deciding factors makes telling your management not to look for sponsors sit somewhere on the scale between foolish and downright idiotic.

    No-one likes it, Heikki, but we’d rather see you in F1 than out of it. Swallow your pride and look for some sponsors.

  7. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 24th November 2012, 19:04

    I can feel for Heikki, I really can. I don’t have a problem with pay drivers or the philosophy so much but for someone who’s an established force in the sport and a race winner it is sad. I can respect his decision and while I don’t want to see him go, I definitely don’t want to see him have to make ends meet for his seat year in year out.

  8. socksolid (@socksolid) said on 25th November 2012, 1:25

    I think the fact is a good driver nowadays brings money into the team as well. While I do not like it that in some cases money is more important that skill you need to admit that drivers who often times get backing are not the worst ones. When climbing up the ladders the ones with most potential tend to get picked. Not always but more often than not. Nationality often times counts too but it is not all there is either.

    One major part of new and upcoming drivers’ job is to find sponsors so they can keep on working and racing getting to the top. Why should getting sponsors suddenly stop altogether when you get to the top or close to being there?

    And this is even more true if you are not one of the top drivers – or if you are new and unrated driver.

    I think Kovalainen’s opinion about pay drivers is very much an ideological one and not realistic one. What he seems to be saying is that once you go pay driver you can never go back. That is simply not true. Top teams always want skilled drivers and they will never turn you down if you also being money into the team.

    And in modern f1 you need to be in midfield team to have a chance to get into top team. Getting a seat in midfield team means that your skill is not the only thing that matters. If you are not setting the world on fire or if you simply can not prove that you are doing so because of bad car you need to bring money. If Kovalainen had to being 20 millions to force india to get a seat would anyone care if he did bring the money and then did good job as well?

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