Kovalainen Returns to Caterham in Driver Line-Up Shuffle
Heikki Kovalainen will be back in a Formula One car with Caterham F1 at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Finnish driver will be driving for the team during Free Practice 1 on Friday at Bahrain as well as the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in May.
“It’s obviously great news that I’ll be on track in Bahrain and Spain and I’m really looking forward to getting back to work and helping the team as much as I can,” said Kovalainen. “I’ll be taking part in the two FP1 sessions in Bahrain and Barcelona to give the team my input on the new parts we’re bringing to those races, and I’ll be working closely with the race drivers and the engineers on track and back at Leafield to help everyone get the most out of the new package.”
Despite not being in a Formula One car for the first three races of the season, Kovalainen said he is physically prepared to take on the role.
“I’m physically ready to get back into the car and I know my experience can help give the team new ideas and options for directions to take on setup and strategy. I’m looking forward to getting back to work!”
The team also announced that Ma Qing Hua will no longer be racing with Caterham’s GP2 team. Instead current F1 reserve driver Alexander Rossi will take over driving duties at the Caterham GP2 team in the car vacated by Ma.
“Ma Qing Hua, who recently made history by becoming the first Chinese racing driver to take part in an F1 race weekend in China, remains a core member of Caterham F1 Team’s driver roster and an announcement about his revised race plans in 2013 will be made in due course,” said Caterham in a statement.
“After Ma’s successful run in FP1 in China a number of new opportunities have arisen for him and we have decided to restructure our current line-up,” said Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul. “Alexander moves to Caterham Racing to compete in GP2 and I am sure he will be an immediate success in that championship whilst he will continue to enjoy the link with the F1 team throughout the season.
With Kovalainen’s return, Abiteboul was also adamant the team will benefit from the valuable input of an experienced Formula One driver.
“Heikki returns to track work with us and we are delighted to welcome him back into the team. He has six years of F1 experience behind him so he is perfectly placed to provide us objective feedback on the various types of configurations we will run and to give us an objective view of the 2013 tyres against his experience with the 2012 compounds.
“Having invested in Heikki for our first three years of competition it would be a waste not to leverage the valuable expertise he brings. As F1 is a team sport, he will also provide support to Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, who are both doing a good job in their first months with the team.”
Peter is a freelance journalist and graphics editor at Richland F1. His work has been featured in the Australian Formula 3 Series, A1GP and the Champ Car World Series. A contributor to E-Racing Magazine, Peter has appeared on BBC World & AOL's Autoblog Podcast as guest F1 correspondent. He can be found musing about all manner of things motorsport under his nom de plume on Twitter @BaronVonClutch.