Heikki Kovalainen has admitted that he expects the McLaren team he left over the winter to 'work flat out' to provide new world champion Jenson Button with the opportunity to maintain his frontrunning form in 2010.
Speaking in an interview with Reuters
, the Finn refused to bad-mouth his former employer and said that he knew that Button would be made to feel welcome at Woking, but admitted that he knew the reasons why his own two-year tenure alongside Lewis Hamilton had failed to provide the race-winning performance he had expected.
"I have analysed it quite a lot myself and with the people around me, with my family and with everybody," the Lotus F1 recruit commented, "We tried very hard with McLaren towards the end of my time there, [but] it didn't work out. I don't want to get into the reason why too much, there's no point, [but] I think I know why it didn't work out for me. Now I am starting from another place and let's see how it works out."
After struggling initially at Renault, many saw the move to McLaren - in an exchange deal with Fernando Alonso - to allow Kovalainen to rediscover the sort of form that made him Nico Rosberg's closest rival for the inaugural GP2 title. However, after taking a somewhat fortuitous maiden win in the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix, the Finn was saddled with an uncompetitive MP4-24 at the start of 2009, and never really made the most of the improvements that transformed the car as the year went on. Hamilton, meanwhile, recorded two victories and out-scored the regular frontrunners over the final third of the season.
"If I went back in time, I would still go to McLaren, no question about it - but I would do things very differently," Kovalainen conceded, "I felt I didn't get everything out of the team, [but] I am doing things differently at Lotus and my target is to get 100 per cent out of the team all the time. For me, it's just a new chapter in my career and I feel I am in very good shape.
"The first chassis has arrived here, and everyone is building it. The engine is here already, so there are quite a lot more people working here compared to a week-and-a-half ago when I was here last time. It all looks very positive.
"Everybody is flat-out working, because it will be busy until the first test and first race – it will be very hectic. For me, it all looks like it is progressing really well. It looks fantastic. I don't expect it to be a rocket to start with, but it looks really cool – people will be surprised when they see the car.
"I expect some tough times, especially the first half of the season, but I have to go through them. I think we have a lot of potential and that's why I decided to join. I think, in the long run, this can be a very good place for me."
Meanwhile, as Kovalainen waits for the official launch of the first Lotus F1 machine since 1994, his former team unveiled the car that it hopes will carry either Hamilton or new recruit - and 2009 world champion - Jenson Button to the 2010 title.