Heikki Kovalainen

Date published: January 27 2012

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After battling it at the front end of the grid with McLaren for a couple of years, Heikki Kovailanen now finds himself at other end of the scale with the Carterham F1 team.

After battling it at the front end of the grid with McLaren for a couple of years, Heikki Kovailanen now finds himself at other end of the scale with the Carterham F1 team.

Like many on the F1 grid, the Finn began his motorsport career in the karting competitions in 1991, where he remained until making his race-car debut in 2001 in the British Formula Renault Championship series. He finished the season in fourth place, earning the Rookie of the Year title after claiming two victories, two pole positions and three fastest race laps.

In 2002, he moved to the British F3 Championship and finished in third place with five victories, three poles and three fastest laps to his names.

Once again, he also clinched the Rookie of the Year award.

A year later and he was off to the World Series by Nissan where he finished in an impressive second place. The following season, 2004, he claimed the title and was rewarded with his first F1 test.

In 2005, he moved on to the GP2 series, the feeder series for F1. A good start to the year saw him take easy victories in the opening rounds with ease, but he eventually lost the Championship to Nico Rosberg.

The Finn had nonetheless demonstrated sufficient skill to secure a test driver role with the Renault F1 team for the 2006 season and, after an impressive season acting as the team’s official third and reserve driver, he was promoted to race driver for the 2007 campaign.

Very much thrown straight into the deep end, Heikki faced a tough baptism of fire, partnering the experienced Giancarlo Fisichella and racing for a team that had won the World titles for two years running.

However, Renault were unable to produce a car capable of winning races never mind titles in 2007 and Heikki’s debut suffered as a result.

While his team-mate was claiming all the praise at the start of the season, Kovalainen’s first race saw him lambasted his team boss. He recovered at his second grand prix, the Malaysian GP, to score his first World Championship point. And although that was followed by a disappointing race in Bahrain, he was back in form in Spain, outperforming Fisichella.

Points were again available in the North American races where he crashed in qualifying for the Canadian GP only to fight his way through to field to finish fourth. The United States GP earned him another four points before a disappointing start that included a collision with Jarno Trulli on Renault’s home soil at the French GP saw another point-less result.

A string of seven consecutive points finishes followed, including a rubber-up finish at the Japanese GP. While most of his rivals got into trouble in one way or another in the wet, Heikki did not and held off Kimi R

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