“Everything is a little bit open”
Kovalainen to drive Caterham in Bahrain, Barcelona practice
Caterham F1 Team has announced that it is restructuring its driver line-up with Heikki Kovalainen rejoining the team as one of the two Reserve Drivers, alongside current Reserve Driver Alexander Rossi who moves to Caterham Racing to compete in the 2013 GP2 Championship in the car raced by Ma Qing Hua at the season opening GP2 race in Malaysia.
As the F1 world looks set to race on without him, Jaime Alguersuari has decried a sport whose seats are now sold to the highest bidder.
Caterham has left open the door for “a different project” with ousted number 1 race driver Heikki Kovalainen.
Team boss Cyril Abiteboul admitted that, while bringing in a pay-driver was another consideration, Finn Kovalainen’s relationship with Caterham soured after their three years together. “I think at a certain point at the end of last season, maybe there was not the sort of trust and confidence and respect – on both sides – that you should be counting on for the development of the team and driver,” he told Britain’s Sky broadcaster.
Caterham’s links with French manufacturer Renault was key to Charles Pic’s Marussia switch.
That is the claim of Olivier Panis, the former grand prix winner who is now deeply involved with the management of countryman Pic’s F1 career. Some raised their eyebrows when Pic, 22, agreed to switch from Marussia to Caterham – both similarly-matched backmarker teams – for the 2013 season.
Heikki Kovalainen is a strong candidate to become a test driver for official F1 tyre supplier Pirelli.
But Paul Hembery, the Italian marque’s F1 boss, admitted it all depends on whether Pirelli’s contract to supply tyres to the pinnacle of motor racing is extended. “This question is still open,” he is quoted by Finland’s Turun Sanomat.
The world of F1 is “obviously” moving on without Kamui Kobayashi, according to experienced Japanese journalist Kunio Shibata.
Kobayashi, who according to 1980 world champion Alan Jones was Japan’s best ever F1 driver, lost his Sauber race seat for 2013. “Kimi is unseen by the public, and not in the newspapers,” Shibata, who writes for GPX magazine, said.
Marussia parted with Timo Glock because a backmarker team needs every million.
That is the claim of Pat Symonds, the former Renault ‘crash-gate’ conspirator who – after serving his F1 ban – is now openly in charge of the 2013 Marussia MR02. Devoid of many sponsors, the new red and black car will be raced this year by wealthy Max Chilton and Luiz Razia, who replaced German Glock at the last minute.
When Caterham unveiled its 2013 car in the Jerez pitlane early on Tuesday, observers immediately spotted the ‘step’ nose and a new, brighter livery.
“Cool!” said Dutch rookie Giedo van der Garde when asked what he thinks of the new green hue. “Last year it was a little too dark, which sometimes didn’t look good on TV,” he told Dutch magazine Formule1. “We have had a good response so far.”
Lewis Hamilton on Monday branded those who overlooked Heikki Kovalainen for a 2013 race seat “fools”.
Caterham has swept out last year’s driver lineup – Finn Kovalainen and Russian Vitaly Petrov – in favour of the well-sponsored Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. When asked about the demise of his former McLaren teammate, Hamilton said on Monday: “When my flight landed and I was driving to Jerez, I thought about what a great pity it is that Heikki is not here.
Former F1 driver Mika Salo has tipped Heikki Kovalainen to return to the grid in the future.
Finn Kovalainen is the latest victim of the ever-increasing influence of the ‘pay driver’ in F1, with Caterham replacing its entire 2012 lineup in favour of the heavily sponsored Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.
Caterham has ended the long wait over its second race driver for 2013, but uncertainty still reigns regarding Force India’s choice.
Ending the hopes of the team’s 2012 lineup Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov, Caterham said Dutchman Giedo van der Garde will be Charles Pic’s teammate. “I want to thank (team boss) Cyril (Abiteboul), Tony Fernandes, (sponsor) McGregor and everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen,” said van der Garde.
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