Kovalainen returns to Caterham for practice sessions

2013 Bahrain Grand Prix

Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, Bahrain, 2013Heikki Kovalainen will return to Caterham to participate in free practice sessions for the team in the next two rounds.

Kovalainen raced for the team in the previous three seasons but was dropped at the end of last year.

“We are delighted to welcome him back into the team,” said team principal Cyril Abiteboul.

“He has six years of F1 experience behind him so he is perfectly placed to provide us objective feedback on the various types of configurations we will run and to give us an objective view of the 2013 tyres against his experience with the 2012 compounds.”

“Having invested in Heikki for our first three years of competition it would be a waste not to leverage the valuable expertise he brings.”

Kovalainen will take over from Alexander Rossi who was originally slated to drive the car in the two sessions. Rossi will take the place of Ma Qing Hua in Caterham’s GP2 squad.

Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde will remain the team’s race drivers.

Cyril Abiteboul explained the changes: “After Ma?s successful run in FP1 in China a number of new opportunities have arisen for him and we have decided to restructure our current line-up.”

“Alexander moves to Caterham Racing to compete in GP2 and I am sure he will be an immediate success in that championship whilst he will continue to enjoy the link with the F1 team throughout the season.”

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76 comments on Kovalainen returns to Caterham for practice sessions

  1. Spawinte (@spawinte) said on 17th April 2013, 9:20

    Whoops somebody along the food chain must have lost their funding.

  2. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 17th April 2013, 9:26

    Translation: “We are unhappy with our current inexperienced driver line-up that haven’t been able to give the feedback we need to improve the car, and need a better driver in order to at least put up a fight against Marussia and Bianchi,”

  3. sumedh said on 17th April 2013, 9:29

    Good opportunity for Bianchi to go up against an experienced F1 driver.

  4. Dimitris 1395 (@dimitris-1395) said on 17th April 2013, 9:31

    I bet that he will be racing in Canada…

  5. To me, this shows pretty much what I stated when Caterham announced their line-up for 2013: Caterham need a coherent marker in order to identify where their car is at the moment, performance-wise. Pic and Van Der Garde are too much of an unknown quantity in order to get relevant data for the team, as they risk hindering the car’s development.

    The question is, what if Kovalainen proves to be at least on par with Bianchi (or a mile ahead of both Pic and Van Der Garde, for that matter) after these two practice sessions? If Heikki manages to show there’s something worthwhile in that Caterham, contrary to what we’ve seen so far, then I think he’s got himself his race seat back.

    Catherham might have gone through their budget again and realised they’re better off paying Kovalainen’s salary than losing the money for 10th place in the WCC.

  6. Stormbreak (@stormbreak) said on 17th April 2013, 10:20

    I don’t understand. Did they honestly not expect this issue when opting for an all new line up with one inexperienced driver and one rookie?

    I know this is going to sound like an arm-chair expert opinion, but it’s times like this where I think some F1 bosses lack foresight and only think of the short term gains.

    Look at Sauber, Gutierrez looks completely out of his depth and it seems like Sauber may struggle to beat Force India and Toro Rosso despite having Hulkenberg. Sure, they will receive a lot of money from Telmex but they are likely to lose two positions (or just one as Force India maybe too fast for them anyway) in the WCC, hence they will lose the money they could have won and will not be as attractive to new sponsors.

  7. JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 17th April 2013, 10:49

    I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that Kovy will be racing just yet.
    The team are presumably in dire straits with their money, otherwise they wouldn’t have got rid of Heikki in the first place.
    I do not believe the practice runs are a warm up for a race return. I simply think it’s a short-term deal until they can find another driver with a sponsorship package.

    • GeorgeTuk (@georgetuk) said on 17th April 2013, 11:04

      Not necessarily strapped for cash, maybe just got a bit greedy and over excited with the quality of their line up.

      As you say this is an indicator of the possibility of a drive rather than a forgone conclusion.

      • Merv (@) said on 17th April 2013, 17:21

        I bet they are strapped for cash. In the current climate I expect every team other than Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes are living hand to mouth at the moment.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 17th April 2013, 12:43

      A combination of Ma not bringing the funds, and the team welcoming any help to get that car moving fast they can (and surely a usefull push for their race drivers too)

  8. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 17th April 2013, 11:25

    Well, let’s wait and see. VDG looks rubbish, I’m afraid, but maybe he can improve. Maybe KOV can help, maybe KOV can do nothing.
    But I think it’s all a bit fishy.

  9. timi (@timi) said on 17th April 2013, 13:44

    Happy days!! My favourite driver is back… kinda. Hopefully he gets a fully-fledged seat next season :)

  10. As a fan of Heikki and Finnish drivers in general, safe to say I’m rather happy! I was gutted to see him ousted in the first place and this is some sort of consolation. I reckon it won’t be long at all before he’s back in a race seat.

  11. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 17th April 2013, 15:28

    Ma was/is a terrible driver. He had to be lifted out of his GP2 car in Malaysia because he was so tired he couldn’t even lift himself out of the car. That they had him drive around in an F1 car was even more ridiculous. It makes pay commercial drivers look good.

    God, I’m happy Heiki gets a shot at driving again, his tweets may have been quite entertaining but the man simply belongs on track.

  12. Rigi (@rigi) said on 17th April 2013, 16:16

    yay, kovalainen is a great driver! now kick VDG out of his seat and put kovalainen in, it’s the only way caterham will have a chance with fighting against marussia!

    want to win, hire a finn :)

  13. Ben (@scuderia29) said on 17th April 2013, 18:47

    surely he’ll be in the race seat in the next few races…theyre not putting him a practice session for nothing, and no doubt he’ll go quicker than Van der garde. I say by he’ll be in the driving seat by Monaco

  14. jre_f1 (@jre_f1) said on 17th April 2013, 18:55

    Looks that way, I think they’ll be evaluating how bad or good the current drivers are, Kovi is a good yardstick. If Kovi is a lot quicker, I think they’ll bin VDG very quickly.

  15. petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 17th April 2013, 23:36

    I give it 2 races until Kovalainen is back in the seat. Once Kovalainen batters Van Der Garde’s quali time in FP1 twice, Caterham will look ridiculous not making the change and will be forced into it.

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