Kovalainen to stay put amid status quo?
21 September 2012
Despite the F1 rumour mill having linked him variously with potential moves to Lotus, McLaren and, most strongly, Ferrari, Heikki Kovalainen may yet find himself driving for the Caterham team in 2013.
The Finn's solid performances for the improving midfield aspirant has raised his stock among the sport's frontrunners, leading to him being included as a possible contender to replace, respectively, Romain Grosjean, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa. However, despite repeatedly refusing to disclose details of any discussions that may have taken place, Kovalainen admitted this week that he was likely to sit down with Caterham team boss Tony Fernandes in Singapore to discuss his future.
"We've not really spoken too much about that yet," he admitted, "There are lots of different rumours but they're just that, rumours. There's nothing more to report since I last spoke about it.
"I've got my management looking into things and, once they've got something to tell me, they will. But there's nothing to tell at the moment. There has been a lot of talk about Lewis Hamilton and what he'll do next season [but], at the end, I doubt he will have much influence on what I'll do. I've not spoken to him and I don't know if he has made any sort of decision or not."
Kovalainen signed with the IMG Worldwide management group during the summer, and reports in the Finnish media claiming that his new representatives had been summoned to Maranello immediately marked the former Renault and McLaren driver out as a potential favourite to join Fernando Alonso in scarlet for 2013. However, with Hamilton refusing to discuss reports that he may be headed for Mercedes next year, the driver market - potentially the most fluid in recent years - could still stagnate to the point where the key players eventually remain where they are.
That would not only mean Hamilton remaining at Woking, but Michael Schumacher getting another year with Mercedes, Felipe Massa prolonging his F1 career for at least one more season and neither Paul di Resta or Nico Hulkenberg being handed the step up they have been linked to. It would also mean that Kovalainen's talks with Fernandes taking on a more familiar tone amid discussion over a fourth year together in 2013.
The Finn, who has one grand prix win to his name from his first year with McLaren, has also been linked with Sauber, but it would appear that he is not only behind Marussia rookie Charles Pic, but also Toro Rosso refugee Jaime Alguersuari, on the Swiss team's wanted list. According to Motorsport-Total.com, both Pic and Alguersuari promise to add to Sauber's sponsorship budget, with the Spaniard this week tweeting teasers about shortly being able to reveal his ride for next year.
Ironically, should Alguersuari - who has spent the 2012 campaign commentating for the BBC and testing for Pirelli - wind up as team-mate to Sergio Perez at Sauber, the Mexican another to be blocked by the potential status quo in the driver market, Pic could yet become Kovalainen's team-mate at Caterham, with Vitaly Petrov looking increasingly likely to find himself out of the sport without the backing of Russian government and business.