Several familiar faces from recent F1 season are missing from the F1 field which is assembling in Australia for the first race of the new season.
Among those left without a drive this year is Heikki Kovalainen. In six year he amassed over 100 starts and was the 100th driver to win a round of the world championship.
Here’s a look back on Kovalainen’s six years in Formula One in pictures.
Kovalainen arrived in F1 with Renault in 2007, taking the place vacated by Fernando Alonso at Renault. In Canada a crash in qualifying and an engine change penalty left him 22nd and last on the grid, but he climbed through the field to finish an impressive fourth.
Later in the season he scored his first podium finish in the rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji, holding off Kimi Raikkonen for second place.
With Alonso returning to Renault for 2008 Kovalainen took the opportunity to replace him again – this time at McLaren.
Kovalainen was back on the podium in only his second start for McLaren, taking third in Malaysia. But while new team mate Lewis Hamilton was on course for the title, Kovalainen only amassed enough points for seventh overall, and McLaren lost the constructors’ championship to Ferrari.
Another opportunity for victory presented itself in the wet Italian Grand Prix, but Kovalainen finished second behind Sebastian Vettel’s Toro Rosso.
Kovalainen’s second season at McLaren was a difficult year for him and the team, which produced the uncompetitive MP4-24. Despite a late-season upgrade which turned the car into a race-winner in Hamilton’s hands, Kovalainen never made it onto the podium.
His best result that year came at Valencia, where he and Hamilton shared the front row, but were beaten by Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn in the race. Kovalainen came home fourth.
Barrichello’s team mate Jenson Button won the championship but was eager to take up the opportunity to move to McLaren, and Kovalainen was moved aside to make way for him.
Kovalainen took up a new challenge for 2010, joining Tony Fernandes’s Lotus outfit which was set up mere months before the season began.
The T127 was never going to be a points-scorer, let alone race-winner, but with a reliable car and the experienced line-up of Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli they beat fellow newcomers Virgin and HRT.
One of the most memorable moments of Kovalainen’s first year with the team came in Singapore, where his car caught fire in the closing laps and he tackled the conflagration himself with a fire extinguisher.
Kovalainen had Renault power behind him once more in 2011. But while the T128 was a step forward points remained a distant hope. A mid-season tie-up with Caterham showed the team was heading in a new direction.
Lotus was rebranded as Caterham for 2012 but despite the new name it was the same old story and Kovalainen endured a third point-less season.
With that he set an unenviable new benchmark, starting 60 races in a row without scoring a point, breaking the record formerly held by Piercarlo Ghinzani.
By the end of the season it was clear Kovalainen would not keep his place in the team for 2013, as they were one of several outfits in need of drivers who could bring funding for a drive.
Brazil was his 109th and last start but a slow pit stop early in the race kept him from playing a role in Caterham’s fierce battle with Marussia to claim tenth place in the constructors’ championship.
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Images ?é?® Renault/LAT, McLaren, Team Lotus, Caterham/LAT
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