The words ‘Caterham’ and ‘Heikki Kovalainen’ often went hand in hand. We had become accustomed to seeing the Finn dressed head to toe in the familiar green overalls, his trademark smile often disguising any race day traumas.
When Kovalainen was forced to hand over his racing kit in 2012, one could have been forgiven for thinking his Formula 1 career was over; lack of progression with Caterham and with no possibility of funding, he was pushed into the sidelines. For any racer this is like a living nightmare. Rumours have emerged suggesting that Heikki Kovalainen may be offered a reprieve by the very team that ushered him away.
Time and time again, we are told that Formula 1 is ruthless in its approach. It is difficult to enter the sport, but retaining a seat is possibly the greatest challenge of them all – I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when Kamui Kobayashi made his emotional departure. Second chances are seldom in this sport, so will one be handed out this time?
It seems possible and would be dependent on his standing with other racing series. A role as ‘advisor’ is probably most likely – a position above test driver but still void of much racing. Here his experience regarding the training, pressures and winning Grands Prix could prove vital as youngsters Pic and Van der Garde line up for 2013.
Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul, who is himself new to the job, told reporters: “obviously we are starting from scratch” he revealed – a sign of possible reluctance at Kovalainen’s departure.
We’d be keen to keep experience in our line-up. That’s something we’d both be interested in under the right conditions. I would not undermine the importance of experience in general in F1″ he continued.
It would be an interesting move and one I’m not certain a driver like Heikki would be willing to take. This reprieve would be a fine gesture from the team but perhaps not necessary, after all their main racing rivals, Marussia, will have two rookies in 2013.
This is probably more an emotion decision than anything else. “Let’s be honest: I think we disappointed our drivers and let them down, in the sense that we under-delivered in comparison to the promises we made to them”, Abiteboul confessed.
I note that no announcements have been made but it is an interesting thought to consider from a team that hope for progression. Their split has saddened many, not least racing fans who have seen copious amounts of experienced drivers leave ahead of this up coming season.
Formula 1 is known for moving on pretty quickly, but this time (just maybe) a driver’s exit is not as it seems.
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