Kovalainen returns to Caterham for practice sessions

2013 Bahrain Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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”

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. I would leave McLaren out of that group. Hiring Perez is also looking more like a cash grab by the day.

    2. 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)

  3. 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.

    1. KOV returns as Driver Training Manager?

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 :)

  8. Ben (@scuderia29)
    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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

    1. Heikki is good, but not that good. The track in Bahrain is usually pretty dusty in FP1, and it will evolve quite a bit from FP1 to quali.

  11. I find it slightly odd that Ma cannot find at least 1 sponsor from China who’s economy has been a monster growth till recently. No money no Ma.

  12. even though caterham should have kept either Kovalainen/Petrov i think this is a smart movie to counter the skilful Bianchi. Pic is doing a good job keeping up with Bianchi but i beleive that Caterham need a more experienced driver like Kovalainen who has the skills to challenge and beat Bianchi and the two williams drivers. Lets just hope they sign him before Monaco. i also think that if marussia didnt sign bianchi i think caterham (pic) would be ahead of the 2 marussias.

  13. I nearly swallowed my own tongue when I heard they were getting rid of Kovy and Petrov, then I very nearly choked when I heard who was replacing them. In my opinion they should have kept Kovy and Petrov.

  14. @keithcollantine So I see Heiki went back to his old helmet. I did notice one thing, It might be nothing but who knows? He’s got the Number 20 on the helmet while he was driving the 21 car. Perhaps he knows something we don’t, or he’s driving Pics car in Spain and I’m seeing things that aren’t there.

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