Heikki Kovalainen has revealed that he is still in discussions with the Caterham F1 team, despite appearing to have been left out of the reckoning to partner Charles Pic.
The Finn's refusal to become a 'pay driver' seemed to have pushed him to the bottom of the list when it came to completing the 2013 line-up but, responding to comments made at the weekend by technical chief Mike Gascoyne, Kovalainen claimed that he had not given up on the chance of returning to the green-and-gold for a fourth season.
Gascoyne told Crash.net
at the Autosport International
exhibition that Kovalainen's stance of bringing funds to the team had shown 'a lack of respect', and the suggestion that Caterham needed a driver with sponsorship appeared to rule the Finn out of contention when the likes of Vitaly Petrov, Bruno Senna and Luiz Razia all claimed to have backing. Kovalainen, however, insists that he remains in the frame.
“The fact is that my negotiations are not with [Gascoyne], as I talk to Tony Fernandes and Cyril Abiteboul,” he told Finnish television broadcaster MTV3
, “At the moment, the negotiations are continuing and I am not thinking about anything other than F1. Let's finish playing the game until the end and then, when we know the outcome, we can think about what to do next.”
Asked to comment on Gascoyne's apparent criticism of his approach to the team which provided him with a haven after four disappointing years with Renault and McLaren, Kovalainen said that he did not expect things to change between them.
“I have always had a good relationship with him, and my relationship with him will continue even now,” he insisted, “Mike is a seasoned professional and he and I have worked together for a long time.”
Caterham confirmed Pic at the end of the 2012 campaign, and the Frenchman was at the centre of the most valuable move in the Brazilian Grand Prix, when Petrov passed him to secure eleventh place and secure a top ten spot in the constructors' championship for Caterham. The Russian was widely-tipped to partner the former Marussia man until earlier this week, when his manager revealed that talks had stalled amid concerns over the amount of backing Petrov could bring to the cause. Senna and Razia have both been mentioned in connection with the drive, as has erstwhile reserve Giedo van der Garde and former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari, both of whom also have access to backing.
Force India has the only other obvious vacancy for 2013, although it appears that Jules Bianchi and Adrian Sutil are in a two-horse race to partner Paul di Resta at the Silverstone-based team.