Heikki Kovalainen insists that he is not ready to follow Mark Webber
into F1 retirement, despite having been out of a race seat this season.
The Finn, who has one grand prix win to his name from his two-year spell at McLaren, saw his top flight career come to a shuddering halt when he refused to join the ranks of 'pay drivers' just to keep his seat at Caterham. Now, eleven races into the season, his stance remains the same, but Kovalainen admits that sporadic practice outings with the Leafield team have confirmed his desire to return to F1 full-time.
Having returned to the cockpit of Caterham's CT03 at last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, Kovalainen will again lend the team the benefit of his experience at Monza, driving Giedo van der Garde's car in FP1, and is currently in the UK working in the simulator at Leafield in a bid to keep Caterham ahead of Marussia on track as it seeks to overhaul its rival in the battle for tenth in the constructors' championship.
The Finn admits that Mark Webber's decision to quit his ride at Red Bull
in favour of returning to sportscars with Porsche in 2014 caught him by surprise – the pair are former stablemates from Flavio Briatore's driver management group – but he insists that he is not ready to follow the Australian, and others including Nick Heidfeld
and Kamui Kobayashi, in seeking an alternative to F1.
“When I talked with Mark a few years ago, he sounded like he was ready for such a move but, at the end of last year, I thought that he was motivated again,” Kovalainen told Finland's Turun Sanomat
, “Therefore, it was little surprising to hear him announce that he was to end his F1 career. But he will have considered it carefully and it must be the right time to go.”
With available seats likely to require some form of financial contribution from whomever occupies them in 2014, Kovalainen may find his options limited, but he insists that he is prepared to fight rather than turn his back on F1.
“This year, I have been asked to be a part of multiple projects in various categories, but I didn't have any interest in them,” he said, “I still feel that I have something to give in F1, and I'm trying to get back to the position where I can race again.”