Heikki and Kamui – Update
There have still not been any news regarding current F1 drivers following the final race in Brazil, held last Sunday. However, a rumour is now circulating that Heikki Kovalainen may still have a shot at gaining a seat at Lotus as Kimi Räikkönen’s team-mate. This would be the first time ever in the history of F1 that two Finnish drivers were racing for the same team. It would also be the first time since 1993* that there have been three Finnish drivers active in the sport simultaneously, with Waltteri Bottas due to replace Bruno Senna at Williams. However, I don’t want to get my hopes up and, despite his inconsistent race performance, I believe Romain Grosjean will get a continuation to his contract.
Meanwhile, Kamui Kobayashi, who was ousted from the Sauber team to make room for Esteban Gutierrez, has managed to gather over 600’000 dollars in fan support to improve his chances of getting a driver’s seat for next season. The only teams with open seats left are Caterham, Marussia and HRT, though HRT is most likely shutting its doors soon – unless the team is bought out. I’m holding out hope that Kamui will find a seat, but much like Heikki, he has no intention of settling for a test or reserve driver spot (even though that might be the best choice at this point).
All of these news has also left the whole issue of Jaime Alguersuari’s driver-seat completely wide open. Alguersuari, who drove for Toro Rosso last season, has been reported to make his return to active driving duty next year, after spending a year as F1 tyre-manufacturer Pirelli’s test-driver (and moving over to make room for Robert Kubica). Unless Jaime snatches a seat at Caterham or Marussia, it seems unlikely that he will be making his return. On top of which, current rumours are saying that rather than leaving F1s (as was stated earlier this season by his manager) Vitaly Petrov may switch places with Charles Pic to go drive for Marussia next season, with Pic now signed to Caterham for next season.
All of these issues are still wide open. Williams is due to make the official announcements about their drivers tomorrow. Here’s hoping the best for both Heikki and Kamui-kun.
* Three Finnish drivers participated in the last two Grand Prixs of the 1994 season, the Japanese and Australian rounds: Mika Häkkinen, Jyrki Järvilehto (JJ Lehto) and Mika Salo.
- Mika Häkkinen had yet to win his two championships and was racing only his second season for McLaren. Häkkinen won the championship in 1998 and again in 1999. He retired after the 2001 season.
- It was the last two Grand Prixs for Järvilehto who had an uninspiring career, his final season ruined by neck injuries he suffered during pre-season testing. After nearly a decade long career in Finnish F1 broadcasting after his retirement, Järvilehto received a 2-year prison sentence for a drunken boating accident which resulted in the death of his friend. However, he was later acquitted by a higher court.
- Conversely, it was the first two races for Mika Salo who is best remembered for substituting Michael Schumacher during the 1999 season at Ferrari, the same year he achieved his one and only podium (a 3rd place in the Italian Grand Prix). Mika Salo now serves as semi-permanent commentator for MTV3’s F1 commentaries, though he’s done the job on-and-off before. A particularly memorable incident involved the 2005 US Grand Prix (Tyregate) when he actually left the commentator’s box after the Michelin teams refused to race.
Edit 29.11.: I forgot when writing this blog, that Force India has only confirmed the contract of Paul Di Resta and so, there is still one open seat at the team. I believe Alguersuari and Kobayashi are both shooting for it (Force India denied that they were interested in Kovalainen earlier this season).