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Andretti impressed with Kovalainen’s effort this weekend

Nov 16, 2013, 4:45 PM EDT

F1 Grand Prix of USA - Practice Getty Images

America’s most recent Formula One World Champion, Mario Andretti, laughed when I asked him if Lotus asked him to fill in for the injured Kimi Raikkonen.

As for the actual replacement for Raikkonen – Finnish countryman Heikki Kovalainen – Andretti couldn’t help but praise the veteran who hadn’t even sat in the chassis until Thursday.

“Heikki’s been very comfortable there from the word go,” said the Circuit of the Americas ambassador and racing legend. “For him to do so well part-time is an incredible effort.”

Kovalainen ended fifth on Friday – fitting right in with the team – and made Q3 this afternoon to start P8. Teammate Romain Grosjean unleashed the E21’s full potential with a run to third in qualifying, continuing his excellent run of form in the second half of the season.

Andretti also opined on two of F1’s most iconic teams, each of whom has struggled at times this season. He said he was “surprised” by Ferrari’s relative lack of pace – Fernando Alonso struggled to sixth while Felipe Massa failed to advance out of Q2, in 15th.

As for McLaren, which made Q3 with Sergio Perez, Andretti said they’ve punched above their weight this weekend as they hold onto fifth place in the Constructor’s Championship.

  1. berone2012 - Nov 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Phil Hill
    1961 World Champion

  2. Tony DiZinno - Nov 16, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Yes, indeed. Fixed now and apologies for the oversight.

  3. worknman24hours - Nov 17, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    Heikki -proof that nice guys don’t win world championships.

    He always had the skill but was never enough of an axxxxle to be thought of as worthy by any team he raced on.

    Something really wrong with that.

    Glad to see him giving Kimi’s car a thorough thrashing.

    Enjoy it while you an Heikki-two races to beat the sxxx out of a F1 car .

    Hell man, win this thing tomorrow-if you can.

    I’ll toast you with a beer if you do and laugh at the guy who came in out of retirement and stopped Vettel’s win streak.

    Just do me a favor-if you do win this thing-PLEASE show the number one finger and do a burnout in front of the stands.

    Give Em Hell Heikki.

    Back in the car again.

    Great to see.

  4. worknman24hours - Nov 17, 2013 at 12:56 AM

    I should have said laugh WITH the guy who came out of retirement to stop Vettel’s win streak.

    You know what I mean …. :) .

    Great Luck Tomorrow Heikki.

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