In the wake of his breakthrough Formula 1 success in the Hungarian Grand Prix at the weekend, Heikki Kovalainen revealed he hoped the victory would be 'the first of many' in the top flight – and his McLaren-Mercedes team clearly believe it will be.
Though the Finn may have inherited the win following the misfortunes suffered in-turn by team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, it can also be argued that his maiden triumph was overdue, on the back of a number of impressive performances earlier on in the campaign that had all ultimately come to nought through a run of sheer bad luck.
McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh is optimistic that the result, in only Kovalainen's 28th grand prix, will now see the 26-year-old go from strength-to-strength in the uppermost echelon – and tipped him to stand atop the podium again before the year is out.
“We have a strong Finnish tradition in the team, and I've seen both Mika [Hakkinen] and Kimi [Raikkonen] take their first grand prix wins while driving for McLaren,” the 50-year-old stated. “With Lewis [Hamilton] too, that maiden victory firstly stands as a validation of their skill and only really underlines what we at McLaren-Mercedes have always believed about our drivers.
“We hire them because we believe them all to be winners, and once we can provide them with the equipment to do that, it is clearly only a matter of time before they start winning, and winning regularly.
“With Heikki, the result was fully justified and very much deserved; he's had his fair share of bad luck during the early part of the season, and his win in Hungary showed that he'd let none of that misfortune pile up on his shoulders. He's as committed as ever, and fully focused on winning for the team.
“We've seen with all our other drivers that once they get that winning feeling, it's something they want to keep doing. None of us in the team are left in any doubt that Heikki is a superb racing driver, and this result will only strengthen his ambition in the second half of the year.
“I'm fully confident that Heikki will win another grand prix before the end of the season, and we fully aim to provide him with the equipment to do so.
“Clearly, we are targeting Ferrari in the constructors' championship, and it will only be to our benefit to have both our drivers pushing as hard as possible to close down that points gap.”