Heikki Kovalainen is on the cusp of being confirmed as Kimi Raikkonen's replacement for the remaining two Grands Prix in 2013

The question of who will drive for Lotus over the remaining two Grands Prix remains open.

The latest news has Caterham reserve driver Heikki Kovalainen in pole position to serve as Kimi Räikkönen’s replacement while his fellow Finn undergoes back surgery.

It’s understood that Lotus is simply waiting for Caterham to agree to release the one-time Grand Prix winner, whereupon an announcement will be made before Friday practice gets underway for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.

The team was understood to have been considering its reserve driver Davide Valsecchi, but given the team is engaged in a close scrap with Ferrari for third place in the Constructors’ Championship standings, it is swinging towards running a more experienced pilot who could deliver instant results.

Kovalainen won’t be a stranger to the Enstone team, having served as a test driver and then race driver during its Renault iteration in 2006 and 2007, respectively. His best finish was a second place at the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix, before he joined McLaren for a two-year stint.

Kovalainen moved into contention after Nico Hülkenberg – who is himself in negotiations to join the team full-time for 2014 – fell through.

“We had an offer from Lotus and are available. We have discussed it, but we decided that Nico will drive the last two races with Sauber,” Hülkenberg’s manager Werner Heinz told the Bild newspaper.

While he may have knocked back the opportunity to drive for the team over the final two races, Hülkenberg still remains in contention for a full-time drive next year.

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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