Kovalainen refuses to become a pay driver
23 November 2012 – Heikki Kovalainen has stressed that he will not head down the route of becoming a ‘pay driver’ in F1. The Finn, whose future at Caterham is looking increasingly uncertain, admits that any options for 2013 would require him finding sponsorship money.
As is the case with other drivers on the current grid, such as Kamui Kobayashi who has been dropped by Sauber for next year, vacancies remain but the individuals have been presented with the task of finding their own sponsors who would fund their drive with a team.
“If this is the last race, then it’s a shame, but the situation is quite tricky for me,” Kovalainen, who joined Caterham (then Lotus) for its inception in 2010, told reporters in Brazil. “We are looking at other options, but even those options require some money - teams asking for money - and I don't want to go down that route. I have told my management not to actively find money. I don't think it leads to anything.
“If you had a big backer like Santander, and they went with you to a team, then that's a different thing; but to collect the money in a pot for one season…to me that doesn't really do anything. That’s the current situation in Formula 1 and it might not fit for me. So there might not be room next year and there’s nothing I can really do about it.”
On Friday, Caterham confirmed that it has recruited current Marussia driver Charles Pic for the 2013 campaign. Dutchman and current reserve driver Giedo van der Garde is tipped to pick up the second place, meaning both Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov would exit.
“I still have a good relationship with Tony (Fernandes, team owner) and everyone at the team, so it could well be that I stay here,” adds the Finn, who won the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix for McLaren. “But, just from my experience, I know how things are in F1 and when things get late it's never a good sign. That's why I’m not pushing too hard at the moment.”
This weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix will bring a 109th F1 start for Kovalainen, who debuted with Renault (now Lotus) for the 2007 campaign.