Heikki Kovalainen says he is confident that his first victory in Formula 1 isn't too far around the corner after making the move from Renault to McLaren for the 2008 season.

The young Finn will partner Lewis Hamilton at the Woking-based team next season after being chosen to replace Fernando Alonso, with both drivers hoping to build on impressive rookie campaigns in 2007.

Speaking to Crash.net Radio at Wembley Stadium during the Race of Champions event, Kovalainen admitted that he was looking forward to starting work with his new team and was confident that wins will come once he has integrated himself into the Mercedes-powered outfit.

"I'm sure me and Lewis will form a good friendship in the team and a good fighting spirit," he said. "Of course, I will do everything I can to beat him and I'm sure he will do the same.

"He knows the team really well so has a bit of an advantage at the beginning so it is up to me to build a relationship with the team to such a level that I can compete with Lewis and that is ultimately my target. It is difficult to say what is a realistic aim, as the focus at the moment is to prepare well and start the season strongly. Then we will have more of an idea of where we are after a few races and know what we need to do.

"McLaren, historically, have always had drivers who have won at some point in their career and I wouldn't have made this move if I didn't think I was making a step forward. I think it gives me a good opportunity to win races and win championships and while the focus at the moment is on getting to know the team and starting the year well, the rest will come."

Kovalainen added that he didn't feel under extra pressure following the switch, despite the fact he finds himself replacing a double world champion.

"I always put pressure on myself and don't look at what people think of what I am doing," he said. "I want to perform well and if I don't feel I am doing that, then I will kick myself.

"For sure it is a fantastic opportunity for me to move on to a winning team and probably the best team in Formula 1. They have a lot of motivation to win and I think it will be great move for me. I need to learn to know everyone in the team and make sure that when we arrive in Melbourne, we have done everything we can to prepare well."

 

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