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. Tuesday 25 November 2014

  2. Leal remains with Carlin for 2015 18:36

    Leal remains with Carlin for 2015

    Carlin has confirmed that Colombian racer Julián Leal will remain with the team for the 2015 GP2 Season. Leal, 24, has...

    GP2
  3. 17:28

    F1 photos: Abu Dhabi testing - Day 1

    F1
  4. Honda says rivals faced same early issues 17:27

    Honda says rivals faced same early issues

    Honda says the teething problems it is facing at this week's Abu Dhabi test are no different to those endured by rival...

    F1
  5. GP2 champion Palmer eyes Force India role 16:11

    GP2 champion Palmer eyes Force India role

    GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer says he would like to occupy a role in Formula 1 with Force India, after testing for the team in...

    F1
  6. 14:23

    Post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test: Day 1 results

    F1
  7. Bottas tops first day of Abu Dhabi test 14:22

    Bottas tops first day of Abu Dhabi test

    Williams driver Valtteri Bottas set the standard on the opening day of the post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test at the Yas Marina...

    F1
  8. McLaren-Honda targets immediate success 12:52

    McLaren-Honda targets immediate success

    McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier says the team will be targeting success from the very first race of its new engine...

    F1
  9. Lynn to make F1 test debut with Lotus 12:08

    Lynn to make F1 test debut with Lotus

    GP3 champion Alex Lynn is set to make his Formula 1 test debut with Lotus on the second day of this week's post-season...

    F1
  10. Winners and Losers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 12:06

    Winners and Losers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

    The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix rounded out the 2014 Formula 1 Season and Lewis Hamilton's 11th victory of the campaign secured him...

    F1
  11. Video: New era for McLaren-Honda 09:24

    Video: New era for McLaren-Honda

    The McLaren-Honda partnership returns to life in 2015, with the two giants of motorsport hoping to emulate the success they...

    F1
  12. Hamilton to keep 44 as car number 08:47

    Hamilton to keep 44 as car number

    Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he will retain #44 as his car number next season, despite earning the right to compete with...

    F1
  13. Hamilton on Sports Personality shortlist 07:53

    Hamilton on Sports Personality shortlist

    Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has been named on the 10-person shortlist for this year's BBC Sports Personality of...

    F1
  14. Video: Button on 15 years in Formula 1 07:48

    Video: Button on 15 years in Formula 1

    Amid ongoing uncertainty over his future, Jenson Button looks back at 15 years in Formula 1.

    F1
  15. Lewis Hamilton's path to the 2014 title 06:57

    Lewis Hamilton's path to the 2014 title

    Lewis Hamilton clinched his second world title with victory in Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, becoming the 16th driver in...

    F1
  16. Video of the Day: Putrajaya ePrix highlights 05:04

    Video of the Day: Putrajaya ePrix highlights

    Enjoy highlights of the second Formula E race in Malaysia, won by Virgin Racing's Sam Bird.

    Formula E
  17. Monday 24 November 2014

  18. Post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test: The line-up 21:09

    Post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test: The line-up

    Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit plays host to final test of the year this week. Ahead of the two-day gathering, GPUpdate.net...

    F1
  19. Glimpse of the future at Abu Dhabi test 21:01

    Glimpse of the future at Abu Dhabi test

    Less than 48 hours after the conclusion of the 2014 season, Formula 1 teams will be back in action to push ahead with...

    F1
  20. Lauda: Rosberg will fight back next year 17:28

    Lauda: Rosberg will fight back next year

    Niki Lauda reckons Nico Rosberg will "fight back" next season after being beaten to the 2014 title by Mercedes team-mate...

    F1
  21. Dennis: Right person won championship 16:05

    Dennis: Right person won championship

    McLaren boss Ron Dennis believes the "right person" won the 2014 championship after his former driver Lewis Hamilton...

    F1
  22. Grosjean glad 2014 season is over 15:22

    Grosjean glad 2014 season is over

    Romain Grosjean says he is glad to see the back of the 2014 season after another challenging weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand...

    F1
  23. Video: Rosberg reflects on Abu Dhabi anguish 14:35

    Video: Rosberg reflects on Abu Dhabi anguish

    Nico Rosberg looks back at a heartbreaking Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where he missed out on the 2014 title.

    F1
  24. Hülkenberg: Abu Dhabi a good sign for 2015 13:57

    Hülkenberg: Abu Dhabi a good sign for 2015

    Nico Hülkenberg believes his performance in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a "good sign" for next year. The Force India...

    F1
  25. Arrivabene replaces Mattiacci as Ferrari boss 12:18

    Arrivabene replaces Mattiacci as Ferrari boss

    Maurizio Arrivabene has been named as the new Team Principal of Ferrari's Formula 1 outfit, replacing Marco Mattiacci, who...

    F1
  26. Formula 1 world salutes Hamilton 12:10

    Formula 1 world salutes Hamilton

    Lewis Hamilton became a double Formula 1 World Champion after his victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. GPUpdate.net has...

    F1
  27. Caterham to field Stevens at Abu Dhabi test 11:01

    Caterham to field Stevens at Abu Dhabi test

    Caterham has confirmed that it will take part in this week's post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test at the Yas Marina Circuit with...

    F1
  28. Hamilton: This means more than first title 10:23

    Hamilton: This means more than first title

    Lewis Hamilton says the feeling he got after securing his second Formula 1 title in Abu Dhabi means more to him than it did...

    F1
  29. Marciello to make F1 test debut with Ferrari 09:35

    Marciello to make F1 test debut with Ferrari

    Raffaele Marciello will make his Formula 1 test debut with Ferrari during this week's post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test at the...

    F1
  30. Wolff says Mercedes let Rosberg down 08:35

    Wolff says Mercedes let Rosberg down

    Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff feels the team let Nico Rosberg down in Abu Dhabi after technical issues blighted his...

    F1
  31. Video of the Day: Coulthard drives FW36 05:08

    Video of the Day: Coulthard drives FW36

    Ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard gets a shock when he trials the 2014 Williams contender at Silverstone.

    F1
  32. Sunday 23 November 2014

  33. 17:54

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday in Abu Dhabi

    F1
  34. Alonso to confirm future plans 'very soon' 17:52

    Alonso to confirm future plans 'very soon'

    Fernando Alonso says he will be able to announce his future plans "very soon", after completing his final race with...

    F1
  35. Stevens pleased to finish debut race 17:26

    Stevens pleased to finish debut race

    Caterham's Will Stevens says he was pleased to achieve his target of finishing his debut Formula 1 race at the Abu Dhabi...

    F1
  36. Vettel: It's been an incredible journey 16:56

    Vettel: It's been an incredible journey

    Sebastian Vettel was left to rue a disappointing end to "an incredible journey" with Red Bull at the Abu Dhabi Grand...

    F1
  37. I haven't finished yet, says Button 16:29

    I haven't finished yet, says Button

    Jenson Button says he did all he could during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to prove that he deserves to remain at McLaren in...

    F1
  38. Massa says 2014 'just the beginning' 15:58

    Massa says 2014 'just the beginning'

    Felipe Massa says the 2014 season is "just the beginning" of a more competitive period for the Williams team. Massa...

    F1
  39. Rosberg: Hamilton deserved to win title 15:37

    Rosberg: Hamilton deserved to win title

    Nico Rosberg says Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton deserved to beat him to the 2014 world title. Hamilton usurped...

    F1
  40. Hamilton hails 'best start' of F1 career 15:21

    Hamilton hails 'best start' of F1 career

    Lewis Hamilton described the start he made at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as "probably the best" of his Formula 1...

    F1
  41. 15:09

    In full: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race result

    F1
  42. Hamilton secures title with Abu Dhabi win 14:49

    Hamilton secures title with Abu Dhabi win

    Lewis Hamilton secured the 2014 Formula 1 title with victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, leading home Williams duo Felipe...

    F1
  43. 12:38

    Follow the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix live!

    F1
more news