It has been claimed that Heikki Kovalainen is growing increasingly disenchanted at having to regularly play second fiddle to Lewis Hamilton at McLaren-Mercedes – to such an extent that he is already eyeing the end of his tenure with the squad.
Whilst the Finn has repeatedly insisted in public that he is 'really, really happy' at McLaren, where he will remain in Formula 1 for a second consecutive season in 2009, Singapore broadsheet The Straits Times
suggests that he is frustrated at having been cast into a mere supporting role to Hamilton at the Woking-based outfit.
The newspaper explains that chief amongst Kovalainen's gripes is the fact that he is invariably sent out in the crucial Q3 phase of qualifying with more fuel on-board his MP4-23 than the sister machine – a situation that has contributed to Hamilton having led the way twelve-five in terms of grid positions thus far this season, and one that has tended to leave the driver of the #23 car with an uphill climb on race day.
Whilst the Briton has set no fewer than seven pole positions this year, Kovalainen has managed just one, at Silverstone back in July – though unlike his team-mate, he has at least started every race from inside the top ten.
Moreover, the 27-year-old's challenge was hampered in the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai last weekend, when a set of 'mis-matched tyres' and braking issues held the man from Suomussalmi back in the early stages before a puncture and subsequent hydraulic failure ultimately sidelined him for good and made it three outings in succession and four from the last five in which he has failed to score – leaving him as the only driver from the established 'top three' teams of McLaren, Ferrari and BMW-Sauber not sitting inside the top six in the title standings one race from the end of the campaign.
According to The Straits Times
, on the back of all this Kovalainen has told friends 'that if his interests are not better served next season, he may have to consider his position'.