'Kovalainen an asset to any team' – Salo
21 March 2013 – Ex-Formula 1 driver Mika Salo believes that fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen would be an asset to any team on the grid, with the latter amassing six seasons at both front-running and backmarker outfits before being squeezed out of the sport.
Kovalainen, whose career began with stints at Renault and McLaren, joined the formerly named Lotus Racing squad in 2010. The 31-year-old parted ways with the team at the end of 2012 after three campaigns at the tail-end of the order, but despite being unable to find another full-time seat, Salo reckons he has plenty more to give.
"I hope he can find another team," Salo told GPUpdate.net. "I think he is still good enough for Formula 1 and he will be for many years. He’s got experience from the best teams and the worst teams so he would be a very good guy to develop any team."
Salo went on to explain that Kovalainen ‘lost his name’ during three discreet seasons at Caterham, while also citing an influx of so-called pay drivers as a reason for the 31-year-old's untimely departure.
"It’s a shame that some teams choose pay drivers over experienced drivers," Salo explained. "I understand the point of it but Heikki had a lot of years in Formula 1 and he’s been quick all the time. He just lost his name a little bit driving a slow car for three years. But that’s how it goes, there were no openings in the big teams."
Kovalainen's Formula 1 career at Renault, McLaren and Caterham consisted of 109 race starts, one race victory, a further three podium finishes and a total of 105 points.