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Caterham’s Fernandes admits ‘cold’ treatment in not bringing back F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen

Feb 9, 2014, 4:09 PM EDT

Heikki Kovalainen AP

Two less than inspiring fill-in performances last season apparently cost Heikki Kovalainen a return to a full-time Formula One ride in 2014.

According to AutoSport.com, Kovalainen lost a chance to go back to driving full-time with Caterham this season based upon his finishes as a replacement driver for Kimi Raikkonen.

Kovalainen had raced full-time for Caterham from 2010-12 before being shifted to a reserve role last season.

When the opportunity arose to replace the Lotus-powered Raikkonen, a fellow Finn, for the final two races of last season, Kovalainen’s performance was marginal at best, finishing 14th at both Austin and Interlagos.

As a result, Caterham team principal Tony Fernandes elected to offer 2014 rides to Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson, leaving Kovalainen with nothing – not even a return to last season’s reserve role with the team.

“Obviously we would lie if that we said it (Kovalainen’s showing at Austin and Interlagos) didn’t play a part,” Fernandes said of making his eventual decision. “It was a whole mixture of a lot of things, but in any decision there are pros and cons.

“I am egalitarian, I put it out to various team members. There were those pro Heikki and those pro Kamui and I had to make a choice.”

Kovalainen continues to look for another ride, but given the start of the F1 season is just over a month away and teams have finalized their main driver and reserve lineups, odds are not in his favor.

Fernandes conceded the whole process admittedly was “cold.”

“We have to move on,” he said. “We have to be a little bit cold if we want to be successful.”

Here’s a video of Kovalainen’s run at Austin in November:

  1. worknman24hours - Feb 9, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    Kobayashi brings a lot of sponsor recognition .

    He is really popular with the fans.

    Heikki is likely a better driver but not as well known as a media figure and that cost him his drive.

    In modern racing, if you are not already being backed by a sponsors money, you have to work the fans and the media even if that is just by the way you attack a race track with your race car.

    The messed up part is that Heikki is probably a really great car set up guy so Caterham could have really used his services.

    • indycarseries500 - Feb 9, 2014 at 11:03 PM

      Honestly I’d take Kobayashi even if money wasn’t involved. Sure Heikki is a good setup/development guy but he’s not a racer at all in these cars. The only times he’s been impressive in race situations were the 2007 Canadian and US Grands Prix (of course this was after Flavio threatened to replace him with Nelson Piquet after he crashed in FP in Montreal).

  2. manik56 - Feb 10, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    Do you judge the guy based on two races for another team or a few years with your own team? I think we know why his team is still at the back.

    • indycarseries500 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:32 AM

      Not like he did anything with them before. Heikki should’ve easily scored points for Lotus, there is no excuse for two 14th place finishes in that car.

      • hq15 - Feb 15, 2014 at 2:23 AM

        would have finished 7th place in Austin minus extra pitstop

  3. techmeister1 - Feb 11, 2014 at 12:20 AM

    I’d rather never race F1 than be part of such a losing cicus act as Caterham. Heikki still has the ability but without any seat time to jump into a car set up for someone else and a team with no money, what would you expect. They didn’t support Heikki at all. Caterham belongs in GP2.

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