Keen to put a disappointing 2008 Formula One campaign behind him, Heikki Kovalainen is wasting no time in starting his preparations for 2009 and has confirmed that he will be back on track later this month.
While world champion team-mate Lewis Hamilton tries to fit training around the trappings of his success, Kovalainen has already been hard at work with the McLaren team and will take part in both the remaining winter tests before F1 heads into its Christmas break.
The Finn harboured high hopes when he swapped seats with Fernando Alonso and joined a McLaren team keen to bounce back from a traumatic '08 campaign that had seen one falling out within the camp and another with the FIA over allegations of espionage. However, instead of being able to join Hamilton in taking the fight to Ferrari on track, Kovalainen struggled to match the Briton, suffered the brunt of the team's misfortune and took just one, fortunate, win all year. He eventually ended the year down in seventh place in the standings, 45 points adrift of his team-mate.
"For me, 2009 can't start soon enough, and I'm really looking forward to beginning," he insisted, "I'm really looking to getting back in the car and understanding how the new regulations will affect the drivers. I can't wait to get started.
"For me, the 2009 season started as soon as I got home from Brazil. I spent two days at the McLaren Technology Centre having my seat-fitting in the 2009 chassis - which already looks like a very promising car for next year - and I went to Stars & Cars in Stuttgart, then on a short holiday. But I'm really looking forward to getting back in the car after a month out of the cockpit. I'm testing at Jerez and Portimao later this month and then preparing over Christmas for my first taste of the MP4-24."
Kovalainen will join Hamilton and test drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett at a special training camp in his native Finland before heading off to the two group tests, and admits that he is more focused than ever on getting his preparations right.
"The end of the season is a very important time for me, as it's the best time of the year to properly rest and recharge before everything begins again," he revealed, "That's why it's so important for your fitness.
"It's vital to start the year with very good core fitness because it's difficult to train as much as you'd like during the season. That means the basic fitness level you reach over the winter is what keeps you going for much of the year.
"That's why our training camp in Seinajoki is so important. It's just for the team and there are no distractions. It's a hard schedule, getting up early, and training all day - often outside in the cold - but it's always fun. Of course, it helps that it's in my home country...."