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. Thursday 8 December 2016

  2. Video: 4x4 thrill ride with Nico Rosberg 16:12

    Video: 4x4 thrill ride with Nico Rosberg

    Competition winners join Nico Rosberg for a thrilling off-road experience at Mercedes-Benz World.

    F1
  3. Overview: Search to replace Rosberg 15:08

    Overview: Search to replace Rosberg

    Ever since Nico Rosberg announced his retirement from Formula 1, one question has been asked: who will replace him and line-up…

    F1
  4. Silverstone to open motorsport museum 14:35

    Silverstone to open motorsport museum

    A museum is to open at Silverstone after being awarded a £9.1 million lottery grant. Silverstone Heritage Experience, which…

    F1
  5. Paul Ricard confirms layout, race slot 12:10

    Paul Ricard confirms layout, race slot

    Paul Ricard will use its 5.8km track layout, featuring a chicane on the Mistral Straight, and hold a late-August slot when it…

    F1
  6. Force India protégé joins Carlin's F3 effort 10:10

    Force India protégé joins Carlin's F3 effort

    Force India academy driver Jehan Daruvala will graduate to the European Formula 3 Championship next season, becoming the second…

    F3
  7. Wolff: Bottas 'very important' to Williams 09:55

    Wolff: Bottas 'very important' to Williams

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has suggested that he will not attempt to sign Valtteri Bottas as Nico Rosberg's replacement, given his…

    F1
  8. Villeneuve: Verstappen must be self-critical 09:02

    Villeneuve: Verstappen must be self-critical

    World Champion Jacques Villeneuve says that Red Bull youngster Max Verstappen must be self-critical if he is to fulfil his…

    F1
  9. Gasly aims to be on grid for French GP 07:28

    Gasly aims to be on grid for French GP

    New GP2 champion Pierre Gasly says that he is determined to secure a place on the Formula 1 grid for the French Grand Prix's…

    F1
  10. Video of the Day: Mercedes-Benz party 05:34

    Video of the Day: Mercedes-Benz party

    Mercedes-Benz staged its annual, action-packed motorsport celebration in Sindelfingen, near Stuttgart, last weekend, with recent…

    F1
  11. Wednesday 7 December 2016

  12. 18:32

    New: Follow GPUpdate on Instagram!

    F1
  13. Chilton stays in IndyCar with Ganassi 18:09

    Chilton stays in IndyCar with Ganassi

    Max Chilton will remain in the IndyCar series with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2017. Chilton, 25, made the switch from Formula 1…

    Indy
  14. Carlin names Habsburg as first F3 driver 15:47

    Carlin names Habsburg as first F3 driver

    Carlin has announced its first driver signing for the 2017 European Formula 3 season, with Euroformula Open runner-up Ferdinand…

    F3
  15. Marko: Both Red Bull drivers locked in 15:09

    Marko: Both Red Bull drivers locked in

    Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has made clear that both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen are under binding contracts, amid…

    F1
  16. Kvyat calls for driver vote over halo device 14:04

    Kvyat calls for driver vote over halo device

    Daniil Kvyat has called for a driver vote on the 'halo' in order to provide governing body the FIA with a clear answer over…

    F1
  17. Repsol extends Honda deal through 2018 13:11

    Repsol extends Honda deal through 2018

    Spanish energy company Repsol has extended its MotoGP sponsorship contract with Honda until the end of 2018, the Japanese…

    MotoGP
  18. MotoGP presents updated 2017 calendar 12:36

    MotoGP presents updated 2017 calendar

    MotoGP organisers have presented an updated calendar for the 2017 season, with the German Grand Prix brought forward to early…

    MotoGP
  19. Ricciardo: Verstappen arrival 'pushed me on' 11:51

    Ricciardo: Verstappen arrival 'pushed me on'

    Daniel Ricciardo has explained that Max Verstappen's race-winning arrival at Red Bull "pushed me on" for the remainder of the…

    F1
  20. Rahal signs Servia for Indy 500, view to more 10:27

    Rahal signs Servia for Indy 500, view to more

    Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has signed Oriol Servià to compete in next year's Indianapolis 500, with a view to adding more…

    Indy
  21. Michelin: Return a 'tremendous challenge' 09:03

    Michelin: Return a 'tremendous challenge'

    Michelin can be proud after overcoming the "tremendous challenge" of its comeback as sole MotoGP tyre supplier in 2016…

    MotoGP
  22. Red Bull: Gasly can still have F1 future 07:28

    Red Bull: Gasly can still have F1 future

    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says that Pierre Gasly can still have a future in Formula 1, despite the newly-crowned GP2…

    F1
  23. Video of the Day: Force India's academy star 05:36

    Video of the Day: Force India's academy star

    Discover more about the developing career of Mumbai-born Force India academy driver Jehan Daruvala.

    Misc
  24. Tuesday 6 December 2016

  25. Provisional 2017 F1 entry list revealed 18:49

    Provisional 2017 F1 entry list revealed

    Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, has issued the provisional entry list for the 2017 season, with Stoffel Vandoorne revealed…

    F1
  26. King 'happy' with Manor Formula 1 displays 15:14

    King 'happy' with Manor Formula 1 displays

    Jordan King says he "feels happy" with the performances he delivered during his pair of Formula 1 practice outings with Manor in…

    F1
  27. Video: Vettel, Räikkönen at Finali Mondiali 14:02

    Video: Vettel, Räikkönen at Finali Mondiali

    Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen put on a show at the 'Finali Mondiali' at Daytona.

    F1
  28. Formula V8 3.5 adds 'World Series' to name 12:32

    Formula V8 3.5 adds 'World Series' to name

    Formula V8 3.5 promoter RPM has announced that the series will tweak its name for 2017, adding in 'World Series', following…

    FV8 3.5
  29. Red Bull/Aston Martin tie-up to continue 10:30

    Red Bull/Aston Martin tie-up to continue

    Red Bull has announced that its collaboration with British luxury sportscar manufacturer Aston Martin, centred on the design of…

    F1
  30. Mercedes considering Alonso for vacancy 10:00

    Mercedes considering Alonso for vacancy

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted that the team is considering Fernando Alonso as Nico Rosberg's replacement, describing him…

    F1
  31. F1 penalties: Who topped 2016's charts? 09:02

    F1 penalties: Who topped 2016's charts?

    Formula 1 currently manages driving offences through reprimands and penalty points, held on individual Super Licences. But who…

    F1
  32. Marchionne: Ferrari has found 'solution' 07:32

    Marchionne: Ferrari has found 'solution'

    Ferrari now has a "solution" to return to the front of the Formula 1 grid, after its win-less 2016 campaign, according to brand…

    F1
  33. Video of the Day: Prema drivers on GP2 05:37

    Video of the Day: Prema drivers on GP2

    Prema team-mates Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi reflect on finishing first and second in GP2.

    GP2
  34. Monday 5 December 2016

  35. French GP comeback dedicated to Bianchi 15:58

    French GP comeback dedicated to Bianchi

    Organisers behind the returning French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard have dedicated the development to late Formula 1 driver Jules…

    F1
  36. Overview: History of the French Grand Prix 15:12

    Overview: History of the French Grand Prix

    It was announced earlier on Monday that the French Grand Prix will return at Paul Ricard from 2018. GPUpdate.net looks back at…

    F1
  37. French GP return at Paul Ricard confirmed 13:41

    French GP return at Paul Ricard confirmed

    Formula 1 will again feature the French Grand Prix on its calendar from the 2018 season, with a five-year deal to stage the…

    F1
  38. McLaren adamant Alonso will not leave 12:39

    McLaren adamant Alonso will not leave

    Fernando Alonso will not be leaving McLaren to replace the retiring Nico Rosberg at Mercedes for the 2017 season, according to…

    F1
  39. Wehrlein 'ready for the job' at Mercedes 10:32

    Wehrlein 'ready for the job' at Mercedes

    Pascal Wehrlein says he would feel "ready for the job" of replacing Nico Rosberg at Mercedes for the 2017 season, following the…

    F1
  40. Marko expects Red Bull 2017 challenge 10:02

    Marko expects Red Bull 2017 challenge

    Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko says he expects the team to be in a position to challenge Mercedes for both Drivers…

    F1
  41. Vettel quells Rosberg replacement talk 09:07

    Vettel quells Rosberg replacement talk

    Sebastian Vettel has downplayed speculation linking him to the Mercedes seat vacated by Nico Rosberg, stating that "it should be…

    F1
  42. Norris wins McLaren Formula 1 test run 08:43

    Norris wins McLaren Formula 1 test run

    Lando Norris will receive a Formula 1 test with McLaren after clinching the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC award at a…

    F1
  43. In photos: Where Hamilton lost the title 07:32

    In photos: Where Hamilton lost the title

    Nico Rosberg has been crowned a worthy World Champion, but with a narrow five-point margin over Mercedes team-mate Lewis…

    F1
  44. Video of the Day: Red Bull parallax highlights 05:20

    Video of the Day: Red Bull parallax highlights

    Red Bull presents its 2016 Formula 1 highlights in this parallax video, made entirely from still imagery.

    F1
more news