Kovalainen: I will not be a pay driver
29 August 2013 – Heikki Kovalainen has reiterated his determination to reclaim a Formula 1 seat on merit, rather than gaining sponsorship money in order to buy his way into a drive.
Kovalainen dropped out of the sport for the 2013 season following three years with Caterham, the first two in its previous Lotus guise. Many have attributed the Finn’s refusal to pay his way back into the sport as a prime reason for his lack of a race seat, but having re-signed as a development driver with his former squad for the current campaign, the one-time race winner still believes he has much to offer.
"I'm not looking for sponsors, I'm not going down that route," the 31 year-old told reporters, including GPUpdate.net, over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. "I'm trying to earn my place here in another way. It's tough, it's not easy. I had a good opportunity at McLaren, but things didn't quite work out. It was difficult to overcome that, but I think it still can be done, so that's what I'm trying to do."
Kovalainen also expressed his thoughts on the potential of 18-year-old Russian racer Sergey Sirotkin making a move to the top echelon, stating that he is more concerned with the state of the sport, rather than the pay-drivers themselves.
"It doesn't bother me," he said of Sirotkin’s mooted move to Sauber. "I have no idea who he is or what he's done. Maybe he's very good, I don't know. But the fact that people are coming here and buying the seats, doesn't bother me. I had some good opportunities in my career. Maybe I did not make the most of them, but I'm still here and the target is to come back and earn a place based on my performance and skills, nothing else.
"To me it doesn't seem correct if you're losing money with your work. No family can survive that. I think you should be able to earn something with your job. But I have no problem with people coming here and taking their opportunity. That's fine. But I have other qualities to offer to the teams."