• Heikki Kovalainen exclusive interview

Thoughts of the future

Chris Medland November 2, 2012

ESPN talks to Heikki Kovalainen about his current contract situation, thoughts on 2012 and hopes for next season

Heikki Kovalainen has been with Caterham in its various guises since its debut in 2010 © Sutton Images
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Your future's still up in the air, but do you hope to stay here next season?

At the moment I'm waiting to see what Caterham wants to do. Once we know that, then we will see what we'll do.

So you're keeping your options open until you see what the firm offers are?

Yeah, I mean, at the moment it's nothing more than waiting for [team principal] Tony [Fernandes] to decide what he wants to do.

Do you feel that this season you feel like you've been driving as well as last year?

Yeah I feel like this year it's the same, if not better. I've been carrying out the same jobs, I feel comfortable, I've been able to get the most out of the car regularly, so no issues.

Is it perhaps a case of a more competitive team-mate this season; he's perhaps been a bit closer to you than Jarno [Trulli] was at the end of last year?

I think they're both competitive. I don't have any problems with my team-mates; sometimes they are ahead and sometimes they are behind.

There's a lot of drivers at the moment that are looking for drives with a lot of money behind them; does it concern you that someone could come in with a huge bag of cash and take your seat?

No, if that's the case then that's the case; there's nothing I can do about it. The fact is I don't bring any money, I told my management not to collect money, I don't want to do that. If somebody was coming and backing me and supporting me then fine, but I don't like that idea. If I'm not good enough here to stay just with my own skills then so be it, it doesn't bother me too much. That's life. That's how the world is going nowadays, that's what the teams need, they need money so if that's what our team is going to do then it's their decision and there's nothing I can do about it. I just make sure that I drive the car flat out until I hear anything and make sure that I get everything out of it.

"We developed the car in the wrong area without getting too much benefit from the exhausts" © Sutton Images
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You say you're waiting for Tony to make a decision, do you feel like these final three races may actually have an impact on that decision?

If that's the case I think it's surprising. I think they know what they get with me and if they think it's not enough they have to take someone else then I don't think it would have any effect. I don't think I need to prove anything; I think I've proven through this year enough. I've been two times in Q2 and I'm getting the maximum out of my car regularly so I don't think I need to prove anything.

Have you been talking to any other teams at all? A lot of drivers up and down the pit lane appear to have been having discussions…

Yeah of course, we've spoken to many teams. There's no need [to name them].

Is that something that helps with negotiations; when you know what your value is to other teams?

No not really, as a driver you just want to always have as good a car as possible and the teams are looking at the best drivers available. That's how the business is here and it's normal.

You say you want the best car possible; have you been disappointing with the way this year's gone not having made the step in to the midfield?

Yeah I think everyone in our team is disappointed that we've not been able to make the step to the midfield. That was our target and we haven't been able to hit that. I think we know what we've done wrong - we developed the car in the wrong area without getting too much benefit from the exhausts. I think we haven't got anything really out of it so that's where we lost out. I think we're back on the right track now with this update here - some more conventional downforce as well as the exhausts - so hopefully we'll start gaining a little.

Is this car a good enough base car to make that step next season? Because there's not a huge change with the regulations…

Absolutely. The car - apart from the aerodynamics - is not a bad car. We've been able to find a very good balance if not at every race then at most races. So I don't see any reason why it could not be a decent car.

So what would your targets be next year if you were to stay here? Would you have to make that step to the midfield or would more progress do?

We have to make that step, it's clear. We need to be in the midfield, I think otherwise it's a waste of time. We have everything in place to be able to do that; we've got good people, we've got a good facility now, we've got a reasonable budget, we've got everything in place to be able to do that.

If you were to stay would you look to a more long-term approach because of the shake-up in the rules in 2014 and the pecking order may change?

Yeah. It will still take a few years for Caterham to be in the points, to be in the top ten and hopefully fighting with the bigger teams. So yeah, it's possible I'd look forward with them.

Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1

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Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1 Chris Medland, who in his youth even found the Pacific GPs entertaining, talked his way in to work at the British Grand Prix and was somehow retained for three years. He also worked on the BBC's F1 output prior to becoming assistant editor ahead of the 2011 season