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Singapore Grand prix: Kovalainen set for Caterham return?

Heikki Kovalainen's chances of making a return to the Caterham F1 team in 2014 were given a boost at the weekend by team owner Tony Fernandes.
Caterham F1 team owner Tony Fernandes has said that Heikki Kovalainen is in the running to return to the team in 2014 as one of its two regular drivers.

Fernandes said that there was a "big chance" of the 31-year-old Finn making a return to the squad next season, and admitted that the need to select this year's drivers based on the amount of sponsorship backing they could bring with them to the team had resulted in a backwards step in the team's on-track competitiveness in 2013.

"Heikki is still with us, he is a big part of this family," said Fernandes, before adding: "I don't want to say more than that."

Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde currently front the team's on-track effort, and it's believed that Pic's position within the team is secure but that van der Garde might be at risk of losing his seat at the end of the year despite being the more successful of the pair.

"This is the state of F1 right now where unfortunately sometimes the budget plays a large part in your decision making," Fernandes conceded, saying that the driver line-up this year had been all about planning for next season. "We were trying to save for 2014," he agreed.

The Dutchman finished in 16th place in Singapore this weekend and was the first car a lap down still running at the end of the race, putting him ahead of both Marussias driven by Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi as well as his team mate Pic who finished the race in 19th.

"After a bit of a poor start I was past Charles, Bianchi and Bottas by the end of lap one and was up behind [Force India's Adrian] Sutil until the first stop," van der Gade said of his race. "The car was absolutely great on the supersofts - my pace in the first stint was really strong, the same as the cars up to 12th and it just felt great for the whole first stint."

A change to mediums meant that van der Garde was soon passed by the Williams of Valtteri Bottas wich was still on the option tyres. "With the pace advantage that compound has here there wasn't a lot I could do to hold him off and he passed me about three laps later."

Van der Garde re-passed Bottas when the Williams went off a couple of laps after the safety car came in on lap 30, but the Williams had the better of it in the later stages of the race and ended up climbing to 13th place by the finish, leaving van der Garde working on ensuring he finished ahead of his team mate the the Marussia pair.

"It's good to have had a strong race here and I'm pleased for the whole team that we could fight with Williams for a lot of the race," he said. "I'm now staying out in the Far East for a break before Korea and even though tonight's race was tough physically I'm already looking forward to getting back in the car."

The team announced on Sunday that they had successfully extended their existing contract for engines with Renault for an additional three years, taking the partnership through to the end of the 2016 season.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
22.09.2013- Race,  Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham F1 Team CT03
19.09.2013- Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham F1 Team CT03
21.09.2013- Free practice 3, Giedo Van der Garde (NED), Caterham F1 Team CT03
21.09.2013- Free practice 3, Giedo Van der Garde (NED), Caterham F1 Team CT03
23.03.2013- Qualifying, Tony Fernandes (MAL) Caterham F1 Team
09.05.2013- Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham F1 Team CT03, Test Driver
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Kevin Magnussen speaks to <i>Crash.net</i> F1 Editor Chris Medland, Singapore Grand Prix
Kevin Magnussen speaks to <i>Crash.net</i> F1 Editor Chris Medland, Singapore Grand Prix
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ZEDX

September 23, 2013 11:48 PM

Yesss! ...be great to see him racing again. Only thing is, VDG has put in some strong performances (after a flaky start) and you have got to feel for him now as to what will happen. Maybe there will be a shock move seeing VDG go to Toro Rosso or another mid-field team? Caterham have a test/reserve driver sorted, so he won't be doing that. The driver market is sometimes more interesting than the racing!!



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