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. Saturday 23 August 2014

  2. 10:21

    Latest F1 photos: Saturday at Spa-Francorchamps

    F1
  3. 09:52

    Follow final practice for the Belgian GP!

    F1
  4. Debutant Ghiotto claims pole at wet Spa 09:24

    Debutant Ghiotto claims pole at wet Spa

    Italian debutant Luca Ghiotto claimed pole position for his first ever GP3 race during a wet qualifying session at...

    GP3
  5. Tereshchenko to sit out Spa weekend after crash 08:48

    Tereshchenko to sit out Spa weekend after crash

    New Trident signing Konstantin Tereshchenko will miss this weekend's GP3 round at Spa-Francorchamps after he suffered an...

    GP3
  6. Video of the Day: Hamilton/Corden outtakes 05:00

    Video of the Day: Hamilton/Corden outtakes

    Enjoy a series of outtakes as actor James Corden interviews Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

    F1
  7. Vettel avoids Belgian Grand Prix grid penalty 03:00

    Vettel avoids Belgian Grand Prix grid penalty

    Sebastian Vettel will avoid a grid penalty for the Belgian Grand Prix after reverting to an older engine. The Red Bull...

    F1
  8. Friday 22 August 2014

  9. Bottas: Williams can be close to Mercedes 18:01

    Bottas: Williams can be close to Mercedes

    Valtteri Bottas is hopeful that his Williams team can put pressure on championship leaders Mercedes at the Belgian Grand...

    F1
  10. Lotterer 'very pleased' with opening day 17:19

    Lotterer 'very pleased' with opening day

    André Lotterer described himself as "very pleased" after making a positive start to his Formula 1 career at the Belgian...

    F1
  11. Ricciardo wary of strong midfield rivals 17:15

    Ricciardo wary of strong midfield rivals

    Daniel Ricciardo has conceded that Red Bull faces a tough challenge to break away from midfield rivals in this weekend's...

    F1
  12. Räikkönen rues Ferrari technical problems 17:07

    Räikkönen rues Ferrari technical problems

    Kimi Räikkönen was left to lament a difficult day as he ended second practice for this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix at S...

    F1
  13. 17:00

    Latest F1 photos: Friday at Spa-Francorchamps

    F1
  14. Maldonado given all clear after accident 16:52

    Maldonado given all clear after accident

    Pastor Maldonado has been given the all clear following his accident in Friday's second practice session for the Belgian...

    F1
  15. Vettel says power unit penalties 'inevitable' 16:31

    Vettel says power unit penalties 'inevitable'

    Sebastian Vettel says it is "inevitable" that he will pick up engine penalties during the second half of the 2014 season,...

    F1
  16. Vandoorne takes pole for Spa Feature Race 15:45

    Vandoorne takes pole for Spa Feature Race

    Belgium's Stoffel Vandoorne grabbed pole position for the GP2 Feature Race in his home country. The ART driver delivered...

    GP2
  17. Hamilton encouraged by FP2 gains 14:58

    Hamilton encouraged by FP2 gains

    Lewis Hamilton says he was pleased with the changes that were made to his Mercedes between first and second practice in...

    F1
  18. 14:40

    Belgian GP: Full Free Practice 2 results

    F1
  19. Hamilton moves ahead in second practice 14:34

    Hamilton moves ahead in second practice

    Lewis Hamilton moved to the fore during second practice for the Belgian Grand Prix on Friday afternoon. The Briton lapped...

    F1
  20. Technical trouble ends Vettel's day early 13:32

    Technical trouble ends Vettel's day early

    Sebastian Vettel's opening day in Belgium has come to a premature end due to technical trouble. The German suffered a...

    F1
  21. 12:53

    Follow second practice for the Belgian GP!

    F1
  22. Formula 1 drivers on Verstappen promotion 12:27

    Formula 1 drivers on Verstappen promotion

    Max Verstappen will become the youngest driver in Formula 1's history when he joins the grid at just 17 years of age next...

    F1
  23. Video: Hamilton's ice bucket challenge 12:04

    Video: Hamilton's ice bucket challenge

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton takes the ASL ice bucket challenge.

    F1
  24. 10:38

    Belgian GP: Full Free Practice 1 results

    F1
  25. Rosberg on top as Spa weekend begins 10:37

    Rosberg on top as Spa weekend begins

    Nico Rosberg set the standard as the Formula 1 field returned to action during Friday morning's first practice session for...

    F1
  26. Chilton to race as Marussia makes Spa U-turn 09:26

    Chilton to race as Marussia makes Spa U-turn

    Marussia has reinstated Max Chilton for the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, just a day after announcing that Alexander Rossi...

    F1
  27. 08:43

    Follow first practice for the Belgian GP!

    F1
  28. Background: Most recent American F1 drivers 08:26

    Background: Most recent American F1 drivers

    Alexander Rossi will become the first American to compete in Formula 1 since 2007 at the Belgian Grand Prix, the 22-year-old...

    F1
  29. Video of the Day: Hamilton's Spa guide 05:00

    Video of the Day: Hamilton's Spa guide

    Join Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton for a lap of Spa-Francorchamps.

    F1
  30. Thursday 21 August 2014

  31. Verstappen set for trio of practice outings 18:22

    Verstappen set for trio of practice outings

    Max Verstappen is set for practice outings with Toro Rosso at the final three rounds of the 2014 season. In 2015,...

    F1
  32. 'Chilton gave up seat for team to sell' 16:18

    'Chilton gave up seat for team to sell'

    Max Chilton's PR company has issued a statement on behalf of the Briton claiming that he gave up his cockpit for the Belgian...

    F1
  33. Rossi replaces Chilton for Belgian GP 15:42

    Rossi replaces Chilton for Belgian GP

    Marussia has announced that Alexander Rossi will replace Max Chilton at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, a move that will...

    F1
  34. I don't have much to lose, says Lotterer 15:14

    I don't have much to lose, says Lotterer

    André Lotterer says he doesn't have much to lose by contesting this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix. On Wednesday, Caterham...

    F1
  35. Video: Force India drivers on Belgian GP 13:30

    Video: Force India drivers on Belgian GP

    Force India drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez preview the Belgian Grand Prix.

    F1
  36. Pérez likens Verstappen rise to Räikkönen 12:57

    Pérez likens Verstappen rise to Räikkönen

    Sergio Pérez sees no reason why Max Verstappen cannot succeed when he graduates to Formula 1. Verstappen, who will be 17...

    F1
  37. 12:30

    Latest F1 photos: Thursday at Spa

    F1
  38. Tung completes China Racing line-up 11:08

    Tung completes China Racing line-up

    Ho-Pin Tung has completed China Racing's driver line-up for the opening Formula E campaign. Although born in the...

    Formula E
  39. Wolff told Verstappen to pick Red Bull 09:40

    Wolff told Verstappen to pick Red Bull

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has claimed that he told Max Verstappen to pick Red Bull's offer of a Toro Rosso seat for the 2015...

    F1
  40. Piquet Jr. secures China Racing seat 09:32

    Piquet Jr. secures China Racing seat

    Nelson Piquet Jr. has claimed a seat at China Racing for the inaugural Formula E season. The Brazilian, who previously...

    Formula E
  41. Trident reveals new GP3 line-up for Spa 08:33

    Trident reveals new GP3 line-up for Spa

    Trident will field three GP3 rookies for this weekend's round at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. The GP3 entry list,...

    GP3
  42. Hamilton out to put difficult times in past 08:00

    Hamilton out to put difficult times in past

    Lewis Hamilton has said he will be aiming to put the "difficult times" behind him during the second half of the...

    F1
  43. Spa memories: Fangio wins, 1955 05:00

    Spa memories: Fangio wins, 1955

    Take a look back at the 1955 Belgian Grand Prix, where Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss finished one-two for Mercedes.

    F1
more news