Kovalainen future in the balance?

Heikki Kovalainen's F1 options for 2013 may have narrowed in the past week, but it is yet far from clear whether he will be re-signing for a fourth year with Caterham.

The Finn had been mentioned in connection with possible vacancies at both Ferrari and McLaren, as well as to a smaller jump up the grid with Sauber, but it now appears that ongoing talks with Caterham may be the key to the one remaining option for extending his F1 career. With McLaren opting for Sergio Perez to replace Lewis Hamilton, and the decision over Felipe Massa's role at Ferrari dragging on, Kovalainen knows that he needs to find a home for 2013, but the paddock grapevine suggests that extending his deal with Tony Fernandes may not be as simple as previously thought.

With Giedo van der Garde's appearance in the #20 Caterham during morning practice at the Japanese Grand Prix fanning the flames, it has even been suggested that Kovalainen could find himself without a ride with the Leafield team next year, despite the influential role he has played over the first three years of its existence. Rumours persist that Fernandes has been frustrated by his driver's interest in bigger teams, forcing the two parties into talks at the recent Singapore Grand Prix.

While the Finnish press has hinted that the outcome may not have been favourable for Kovalainen, the former Renault and McLaren driver insists that he is still negotiating his position and remains confident of returning to the fray in 2013.

"At the moment, we are talking about that with Caterham," the Finn told MTV3, "We had a good meeting with Tony [in Singapore], and all the problems that were developing are now okay. Right now, there are no serious discussions with other teams.

Kovalainen's claim may be helped by the fact that team-mate Vitaly Petrov's role continues to be under threat from a lack of sponsorship, with the Russian's manager repeatedly suggesting that he may find a better career outside of F1. Surprisingly few drivers have been mentioned in connection with either Caterham, seat, with van der Garde the obvious candidate because of his role as reserve driver. Marussia's Charles Pic and former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari have both been touted as potential signings but, with only a small percentage of the 2013 grid confirmed, it may be some time before any decisions are taken.

"I hope [to be able to announce something] before the end of the season, possibly as early as this month," Kovalainen concluded, "I believe a good driver can always find somewhere, regardless of what some drivers are able to pay."