While most eyes are focussed on the driver market rumours at the pointy end of the grid – particularly who could be set to take over Felipe Massa’s seat at Ferrari next year – Caterham F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen could also be a significant player in shaping the makeup of next year’s grid.
The Finn, who previous raced for Renault and McLaren before switching to Caterham (then under the guise of Lotus Racing), is out of contract with his current employer at the end of the season.
And despite being pleased with the progress being shown by the Hingham-based team – where he out-qualified both Toro Rosso drivers on merit last time out at Valencia – the 30-year-old is not denying that his performances have made him an attractive prospect for teams further up the grid.
“The future will be good for me,” he said recently. “I feel very comfortable here in the paddock. I know that many people know that I’m performing well. I’ve regained the confidence that I lost a little bit during the McLaren years.
“Physically and mentally I’m in a great place now. Wherever I am next year, the future will be good.”
While Kovalainen would need to seriously consider any offers presented to him by rival teams, he’s also indicated that Caterham will need to show continued improvement over the next few races in order to lessen his reasons to leave the Tony Fernandes-run squad.
“We don’t have any serious talks with anyone yet. It’s a bit too early,” he added, suggesting that he’ll leave the negotiations with his newly-appointed IMG management team.
“We need to wait and see first where Caterham is going. I haven’t spoken to them yet, they haven’t spoken to me, so it’s a bit too early. Let’s wait and see for the next few updates and try to bring the team forward.
“I’ve been very happy here and I’ve been able to perform well here. I’ve been able to find my swing again, which is good. We wait a few more races and see what happens.”
The team will be bringing an additional raft of updates to its CT01 challenger for this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, on top of those introduced at Valencia, which are believed to deliver as much as an extra second per lap in performance.
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