Heikki Kovalainen has said that the potential of the new Lotus F1 team was a key factor in his decision to sign up with the newcomers for the 2010 F1 campaign.
Having lost his drive at McLaren to newly crowned champion Jenson Button, the Finn was left with limited options if he was to secure a race seat for 2010 and has now been confirmed as partner to Jarno Trulli for next season as Lotus looks at experience for its debut campaign.
Speaking following confirmation of his new drive, Kovalainen admitted that there had been a number of options available to him as he looked to continue his F1 career, with Lotus emerging as the best choice for the future.
“For me there were a couple of major factors,” he said. “Tony and Mike being the two leading figures in the project, and the backing behind the team were both very important, and having spoken to both of them I became aware that the whole operation has a lot of potential, and a very good chance of being a successful team in the future. I saw Lotus F1 Racing as the best choice for me to progress my career, after considering several other options that were available to me.”
Like Trulli, Kovalainen heads to Lotus as a previous F1 winner but while he said he would continue to approach each race as if he was trying to secure victory, it was important to keep expectations in check.
“I always race to win and I will do everything as if I was preparing to put the car on pole, but of course we have to be realistic and keep the focus on developing the team to a state where we can operate like any other current top F1 team,” he said. “It will not be easy and we will have tough times at the beginning, there's no question about it, but as long as we keep improving all the way through the year and have the earned respect of the other top teams on the grid, then we can be pleased about the first year.”