Heikki Kovalainen has insisted he has no plans to leave the soon-to-be Caterham F1 Team despite suggestions that the Finn could be a target for rival teams on the grid.
Although he has failed to score in his two seasons with the team since it joined F1 at the start of 2010, Kovalainen has produced a series of strong performances to the take the fight to the more established teams – showing the kind of form that led to him securing a drive with McLaren earlier in his career.
Despite the speculation however, Kovalainen insists that he has no intention of leaving Caterham to move elsewhere in 2012 and is fully focused on the job at hand.
“I will be at Caterham – 100 per cent, I'm not going anywhere,” he told the Norwich Advertiser
. “I have a firm contract and this is where I will race next year – after that we will see. I'm very happy to work with this team, they have enabled me to get my swing back and I'm certain I'd be able to function in all kinds of teams now to be honest.
“I know what the teams require from a driver and the paddock is a happy place for me again. It used to be a stressful place and confusing, but I think the results and relative pace compared to the people around us this year show that I was able to deliver.
“Now it's a matter of chipping away and trying to do better.”
Kovalainen added that the decision to join the team, which has spent the past two seasons running under the Lotus banner, had been the ideal way to rebuild confidence after a difficult spell with McLaren.
“This year for me was getting back to real good form for the first time since my junior category years,” he said. “I felt I performed this year at the level I was performing at Formula Three and GP2. The Renault and McLaren years didn't work out very well and I lost a little bit of confidence and wasn't able to perform, so it was obvious I had some things that needed to change.
“Now I have found a good way, good and balanced form, and every time I get into the car I know I can get the best out of it and I can drive it to the limit. That's what it needs to be and what the team expects of you. It's like a golfer. Sometimes you lose your swing and I had lost mine – but I've found it again.
“After the second McLaren year, even if they had offered me an extension there was no point to continue there because it wasn't working – for various reasons and there's no need to go too deep into those, but the bottom line was I lost confidence, lost the freedom. Driving shouldn't be that difficult.
“To find that freedom again I had to go back to the starting point. That is why I joined Team Lotus and not the offers I had from some of the established teams. I changed my fitness programmes and many things in my life, and the idea was to find that form and promise I felt I had in the junior categories, because I remember those years I felt very comfortable in the car and was always able to perform at the maximum.
“Now I understand how to find the way to stay at this level for a good time, and I think I am able to contribute more to the team. The form is good and with the experience I have collected, I can offer a strong package to the team.”