Lotus confirms Kovalainen for remainder of 2013 season

By on Thursday, November 14, 2013
Lotus F1 Team

Lotus F1 Team

Lotus has confirmed that Heikki Kovalainen will replace Kimi Raikkonen for the rest of the 2013 season.

Raikkonen will skip the final two rounds of the year after electing to undergo surgery on his injured back and compatriot Kovalainen will take over in America and Brazil.

Kovalainen completed a seat fitting at the Lotus factory on Wednesday, before flying out to Austin.

Kovalainen raced for Lotus under their previous guise, Renault, in his rookie season in 2007, finishing on the podium in the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Finn joined McLaren for 2008 and won in Hungary, before moving to Caterham at the start of 2010. Kovalainen lost his seat at the end of 2012 but has remained with Caterham in 2013, participating in six free practice sessions.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for me to join Lotus F1 Team for the final two races of 2013," said Kovalainen.

"We’ve seen this year that the E21 is a car which can win races and finish on the podium, so I will be pushing hard for the best results possible. Jumping into a car so late in the year when you have not been competing in the races all season will be a challenge, but I know the team at Enstone well so I have no concerns about getting up to speed."

"This is a great opportunity for me, so I would like to thank Tony Fernandes and Caterham F1 Team for allowing me to take advantage of it."

Team principal Eric Boullier says that Lotus considered using reserve driver Davide Valsecchi but opted for Kovalainen due to his experience.

"Obviously we had to move quickly following the news of Kimi’s non-participation in the final two races of this season, and we found ourselves facing a difficult decision in terms of who should take the wheel in Austin and São Paulo," he said.

Lotus F1 Team

Lotus F1 Team

"On the one hand we had our reserve driver Davide Valsecchi – who is a talented young driver that has shown a great deal of promise – and on the other we had the opportunity to bring in a seasoned Formula 1 competitor in Heikki. Whilst we have every faith in Davide’s abilities, we are obviously involved in a tight Constructors’ Championship battle, so it was decided that the experience Heikki could bring to the team would be invaluable as we aim to finish the year in the best position possible."

"We must thank Tony Fernandes and Caterham F1 Team for their professional conduct in allowing Heikki to join us for the final races of this season."

Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul added that he is glad Lotus could provide Kovalainen with an opportunity to race.

"We were asked by Lotus F1 Team if we could release Heikki from his contract with us for the final two races of 2013 and we are pleased that we can help to give him the chance to race again in 2013. He is a valued member of the Caterham family and we're sure that he'll do a good job in the USA and Brazil"

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