Heikki Kovalainen, with Tony Fernandes and Jarno Trulli
Heikki Kovalainen says that, even after 2 difficult seasons at McLaren, he has still come out of it a better driver.
In an interview with Autosport, he said: “I am a better race driver. I can drive the car quicker than when I drove the Renault (2007). I have learned many things – how to work with a team, how to set-up a car, how to go racing. I think I am better in every area.”
Kovalainen was released from McLaren after the 2009 season ended. After negotiations with many teams, he has moved to the new Lotus team, alongside Jarno Trulli. He also said that he believes it was a better option than moving to an established team.
“I just felt that this was the most stable option available to me,” he said. “The other teams were still wondering who was going to own the team, who was going to sponsor the team and who was going to pay the bills.”
“Funnily enough, for a new team I was convinced after I met Tony [Fernandes] and Mike [Gascoyne]. First of all, they have the budget in place. They have the people coming to the team eventually – they will be current people and not people who have been out of the paddock for one or two years.”
When asked about his prospects for 2010, he said: “”I think it will be very tough. Sometimes when I talk to Tony he is very excited and it seems like we are going to win the first race. But, I am being more realistic and I don’t want to build too big expectations.”
When he was with McLaren in 2008, he was outscored on points by Lewis Hamilton with 98 points to 53, although Heikki took his first win. In 2009, he was outscored again, by 49 points to 22, and not even getting on the podium once.