Exclusive interview with Heikki Kovalainen

Exclusive interview with Heikki Kovalainen

27 February 2012 – 2012 marks Heikki Kovalainen’s sixth season in Formula 1 and third with Caterham, formerly known as Team Lotus. It’s a year in which regular Q2 qualifying is expected as the 30-year-old Finn targets a gradual rise up the grid. He speaks candidly and exclusively with GPUpdate.net.

When this team entered F1 in 2010, there was always a highly positive mood in the garage and motorhome. Are things more pressurised nowadays?
I don’t think so. There is a still a really great environment and I enjoy working here. But of course the targets are higher: everybody wants to move up towards the front of the grid and the middle of the pack, first of all. Everyone is very motivated and a lot of effort has gone into the car over the winter. I’m really excited.

You have a new team-mate this year, as Vitaly Petrov comes in from Lotus Renault GP. How much will you miss Jarno (Trulli)?

I got on really well with Jarno. I think we became good friends over the last couple of years. I knew him before, but obviously not so well. I think we pushed the team together very hard and worked very well together, both on and off the track. But it was a team decision and now I’m working with Vitaly, who is also a pro driver. I think we will work well together and we need to work together to push the team forward. He is a strong driver as well, so I expect him to be pushing me, I will push him and I will try to stay ahead of him. It’s a normal situation, really.

You seem more of a team leader now – fair comment?
Vitaly will have the same service. Jarno had the same and there is no preference there. I am just happy that I have been able to, I think, earn my place in the team over these two years. When I arrived I don’t think I was driving particularly well. My performance level wasn’t particularly good at that time – I think I lost some performance in the early part of my Formula 1 career…

…after your time with McLaren, you mean?
And Renault as well. Even there I don’t think I was performing at the level I was in the junior categories - that sort of young, ‘promising Heikki’ was missing. Things seemed difficult and that is why I wanted to take a step back, go back to a starting point and go to a team new to give me time to find the swing again, if you like. Because all of the promise had seemed to be there and then Formula 1 was difficult. Things weren’t functioning. I was driving some good cars and I wasn’t able to put in good results, so I started wondering what was wrong with me? I sat down with a lot of friends and family and made a lot of changes to a lot of routines I had. A complete, overall reshuffle of everything. I think things worked really well and I feel back to the normal level performance I was at when I was younger, but now with experience behind me. I’m comfortable in the paddock now. The bad moments I do have don’t bother me so much. If we keep improving, I will happily stay here.

You appear to enjoy a very settled personal life. How much does that help?
My girlfriend Catherine is a great supporter and she was one of the first people to say that things weren’t working in my career like they did previously. She didn’t think it was right and she got me thinking that we needed to change a lot of routines and change the way I went in Formula 1. Things between us work really well and she done a lot of stuff for myself with the team. I now have IMG on-board for management, which will allow her to step down and do some other stuff she wants to do, which I think is fair enough. She has done a lot of stuff for me but I also understand that she has things she wants to do for herself. I am now really looking forward to working with IMG; I think it will allow me to spend more time working with the team and with the engineers and actually get more performance out of myself.

Will your new management be coming to every race?
They will be. Previously, there would be many things I was doing with my girlfriend over the race weekends and it got to a point when I felt we shouldn’t be doing emails, phone calls or those kinds of things – it needs to be professional, global people doing that in order to serve the team better. Not myself and Catherine…we can’t always give the right answer. So I think the new setup will benefit everybody.

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Friday 29 July 2016

  2. Giovinazzi excluded from GP2 qualifying 19:31

    Giovinazzi excluded from GP2 qualifying

    GP2 title contender Antonio Giovinazzi has been excluded from the results of qualifying at Hockenheim after his Prema-run…

    GP2
  3. 17:02

    Latest F1 photos: Friday at Hockenheim

    F1
  4. Vettel positive but wants 'steps forward' 16:57

    Vettel positive but wants 'steps forward'

    Sebastian Vettel described a positive opening day of practice in Germany but still feels that Ferrari needs to make significant…

    F1
  5. Mercedes moved to prevent Hamilton penalty 16:09

    Mercedes moved to prevent Hamilton penalty

    Mercedes says it acted to remove any risk of Lewis Hamilton being handed a reprimand over track limits during German Grand Prix…

    F1
  6. Button cleared after precautionary checks 15:37

    Button cleared after precautionary checks

    Jenson Button has been cleared to compete in the remainder of the German Grand Prix weekend after he required a precautionary…

    F1
  7. 15:31

    Latest GP2 photos: Friday at Hockenheim

    GP2
  8. Sirotkin edges Gasly for Hockenheim pole 15:29

    Sirotkin edges Gasly for Hockenheim pole

    ART Grand Prix driver Sergey Sirotkin claimed his third GP2 pole position of the season as he edged series leader Pierre Gasly…

    GP2
  9. Ricciardo: Red Bull/Ferrari battle 'close' 15:10

    Ricciardo: Red Bull/Ferrari battle 'close'

    Daniel Ricciardo says the battle between Red Bull and Ferrari at this weekend's German Grand Prix will be "close", given…

    F1
  10. Button goes to hospital for eye check-up 14:49

    Button goes to hospital for eye check-up

    Jenson Button has gone to hospital for a "precautionary check-up" after experiencing an eye irritation during Friday afternoon's…

    F1
  11. 14:33

    German Grand Prix: Full Practice 2 results

    F1
  12. Rosberg stays ahead in second practice 14:32

    Rosberg stays ahead in second practice

    Nico Rosberg kept his place at the top of the times during Friday's second practice session for the German Grand Prix, ahead of…

    F1
  13. Red flags in qualifying to stop improvements 13:09

    Red flags in qualifying to stop improvements

    Formula 1 qualifying sessions are to be red flagged immediately in the future in the event of double yellow flags being waved…

    F1
  14. 12:52

    Follow second practice for the German GP!

    F1
  15. Vandoorne downplays Manor speculation 12:20

    Vandoorne downplays Manor speculation

    McLaren reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne has played down talk that he could replace Rio Haryanto at Manor from the Belgian Grand…

    F1
  16. Video: Classic Mercedes at Hockenheim 11:02

    Video: Classic Mercedes at Hockenheim

    Nico Rosberg, Pascal Wehrlein and Nico Hülkenberg drive three legendary Mercedes cars at Hockenheim.

    F1
  17. 10:33

    German Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    F1
  18. Rosberg leads Hamilton in first practice 10:31

    Rosberg leads Hamilton in first practice

    Nico Rosberg edged out team-mate Lewis Hamilton during Friday morning's first free practice session for the German Grand Prix…

    F1
  19. 08:52

    Follow first practice for the German GP!

    F1
  20. GPDA chief Wurz 'surprised' by halo delay 08:34

    GPDA chief Wurz 'surprised' by halo delay

    Grand Prix Drivers' Association Chairman Alexander Wurz says that he is "surprised" by the decision to delay the introduction of…

    F1
  21. Hülkenberg confirms Force India stay 08:00

    Hülkenberg confirms Force India stay

    Nico Hülkenberg has formally confirmed that he will remain with Force India into 2017, for what will be his fifth season with…

    F1
  22. Formula V8 3.5 to link up with WEC in 2017 07:44

    Formula V8 3.5 to link up with WEC in 2017

    Formula V8 3.5 will act as the support category to the World Endurance Championship from the start of the 2017 season…

    FV8 3.5
  23. Video of the Day: Being a race engineer 05:22

    Video of the Day: Being a race engineer

    Former Olympic rower Tom Stallard talks about his switch to F1 to become Jenson Button's race engineer.

    F1
  24. Thursday 28 July 2016

  25. 19:02

    Latest F1 photos: Thursday at Hockenheim

    F1
  26. Formula 1 agrees to free up radio rules 18:45

    Formula 1 agrees to free up radio rules

    Formula 1 has agreed to relax its much-criticised radio communication restrictions from this weekend's German Grand Prix…

    F1
  27. Formula 1 votes against halo for 2017 18:02

    Formula 1 votes against halo for 2017

    Formula 1 will delay the introduction of increased head protection until the 2018 season, with it agreed at the latest meeting…

    F1
  28. Hamilton feels he is 'still behind' in standings 16:45

    Hamilton feels he is 'still behind' in standings

    Lewis Hamilton says he feels as though he is "still behind" Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the championship standings…

    F1
  29. Gutiérrez: Hamilton deserved penalty for gesture 16:17

    Gutiérrez: Hamilton deserved penalty for gesture

    Haas driver Esteban Gutiérrez reckons rival Lewis Hamilton should have been sanctioned for his "disrespectful gesture" during…

    F1
  30. Haryanto: Summer break crucial for future 14:23

    Haryanto: Summer break crucial for future

    Manor driver Rio Haryanto has stated that Formula 1's traditional summer break will be crucial if he is to complete his rookie…

    F1
  31. Sauber takeover has accelerated development 13:33

    Sauber takeover has accelerated development

    Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson says the team's takeover has enabled the squad to increase its development programme, as it bids…

    F1
  32. Formula E presents new-look 2016/17 car 12:36

    Formula E presents new-look 2016/17 car

    Organisers of the Formula E championship have presented a new-look single-spec car for the 2016/17 season. Formula E has used…

    FE
  33. Pérez: I will decide on Formula 1 future 12:19

    Pérez: I will decide on Formula 1 future

    Sergio Pérez says that it is up to himself and sponsors to decide where he will be racing next year, going against Force India…

    F1
  34. Stoneman gets IndyCar test with Andretti 11:11

    Stoneman gets IndyCar test with Andretti

    Dean Stoneman will sample IndyCar machinery with Andretti Autosport at Watkins Glen next month, with the team handing test runs…

    Indy
  35. 10:18

    Photos: Schumacher charity football match

    F1
  36. In photos: Ricciardo hits the F1 century 09:04

    In photos: Ricciardo hits the F1 century

    Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo will make his 100th appearance in Formula 1 at this weekend's German Grand Prix. GPUpdate.net…

    F1
  37. Mercedes must accept driver 'idiosyncrasies' 08:32

    Mercedes must accept driver 'idiosyncrasies'

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he and the squad must deal with the "idiosyncracies" of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, and…

    F1
  38. Binder replaces Canamasas at Carlin 07:59

    Binder replaces Canamasas at Carlin

    René Binder will return to the GP2 Series at Hockenheim this weekend in place of Sergio Canamasas at Carlin. Canamasas…

    GP2
  39. Video of the Day: Vettel on home Grand Prix 05:42

    Video of the Day: Vettel on home Grand Prix

    Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel looks ahead to his home race, the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

    F1
  40. Wednesday 27 July 2016

  41. 16:02

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  42. Haas looks to overhaul McLaren in Germany 15:04

    Haas looks to overhaul McLaren in Germany

    Haas team boss Guenther Steiner says the squad wants to enter Formula 1's summer break having gained a position in the…

    F1
  43. Bradl to exit MotoGP at the end of 2016 13:42

    Bradl to exit MotoGP at the end of 2016

    Stefan Bradl has confirmed that he will leave MotoGP at the end of the season, with a switch to the World Superbike Championship…

    MotoGP
more news