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Kovalainen delighted with new deal.

Heikki Kovalainen may have been rewarded with a new McLaren contract for his 2008 efforts, but insists that the team has not asked him to support team-mate Lewis Hamilton's world title bid.

There was some speculation that the Finn had made life easy for Hamilton at Hockenheim two weekends' ago, as the Briton blew past on his recovery from fifth to first. McLaren insisted immediately after the race that Hamilton had simply been faster - despite having refuelled later - and Kovalainen has since refuted suggestions that he is now playing tailgunner for the Briton in his battle with the two Ferrari drivers and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica.

"First of all, I don't think Lewis needs any help," the Finn claimed during Thursday's FIA press conference at the Hungaroring, "I think he has shown that he can do the job himself and that he doesn't need anyone there.

"The second point is that I am trying to do the maximum for myself, and I am not helping any other drivers, that's for sure. I have no instructions from the team. In the past, it has been very clear that, at McLaren, they have had the policy of equal drivers and both have the same opportunities. I have the same car, the same opportunity and I am just working towards improving the pace and the results.

"The last few races have been a little bit disappointing, but the only way to move on is to keep working hard and eventually the results will come."

Indeed, Kovalainen's season as a whole has failed to live up to expectation - both his and the watching world's - but, as McLaren continues to insist, the entire blame cannot be laid at the Finn's feet. The second year driver currently lies sixth in the championship, but has just one podium finish - from Malaysia - amid mixed results that also include non-scoring finishes in ninth and twelfth. His sole retirement, however, was mechanically-related after the wheel failure that sent him spearing into - and under - the barriers in Barcelona.

The lack of results has led to suggestions that Kovalainen's stay at Woking may be a short one, with Nico Rosberg among those tipped to replace him next season, but McLaren underlined its faith in the Finn by extending his deal to partner Hamilton on the eve of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"I think, as far as I am concerned, I have never been worried about my contractual situation," Kovalainen revealed, "Since the beginning of my McLaren career, it has been the target to extend this relationship for many, many years.

"I think [Thursday's announcement] is just to clarify the situation for everybody of where we are at the moment. First of all, I can say I am very, very happy with this team. I have had no second thoughts since I joined this team. I think there is a great potential in this team, and I want to be part of it. I want to become a successful driver in this team and, hopefully, we can announce at some point in the future that I can stay here for many, many years. I would be happy to finish my career at this team to be honest."



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-23 Pole Position, Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren MP4-23 2nd, Australian F1 Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, 14-16th, March, 2008
Lando Norris, McLaren Autosport BRDC Awards [Credit: Martyn Pass PR]
Lewis Hamilton tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
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Matt Gillard [Unverified]

August 01, 2008 11:33 AM

...(cont) If they find themeselves truly equal, I'm not sure it will work. My guess is that Mclaren will be hoping for Heikki to consistently be within a tenth or two of Lewis, but not fighting directly with him for the WDC. History suggests that the most successful team partnerships naturally fell into this heirarchy - Senna/Berger, Schumacher/Barichello, Hakkinen/Coulthard etc wheras the truly equal partnerships tended to cause large amounts of friction - Alonso/Hamilton, Senna/Prost, Mansell/Piquet etc As Frank William said, you can't put two bulls in one field...

Raw Dawg - Unregistered

August 01, 2008 5:29 PM

What Kovi fails to realise is that, yes, you are on equal terms with your teammate at the beginning of the year. But when half the season is gone and your teammate is leading the championship and you're 30 points behind in 6th, yes you are in a supportive role. If the roles were reversed than Hamilton would have to be the supporter - like it or not. That is the way TEAMS win a Formula 1 Driver's Championship. Better luck next year.



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