Heikki Kovalainen will be on the sidelines for the opening practice session of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, deferring to Lotus Racing’s test driver, Fairuz Fauzy. The Malaysian driver has performed similar duties at others Grands Prix this season.
Lotus is on the cusp of securing a crucial tenth-placed finish in the Constructors’ Championship standings at the end of the weekend, and is hoping that good weekend will ensure it received a lucrative slice of the TV revenue funds under the commercial terms of the Concorde Agreement.
With Lotus, Virgin Racing and Hispania Racing having not scored a championship point between them, the tenth-placed finish in the standings will be determined by count-back of the best finishing results for each team, with Kovalainen’s 12th-placed finish in Japan beating the series of 14th-placed finishes achieved by HRT and Virgin Racing.
The team is currently locked in an ugly legal dispute with the separate Group Lotus organisation, and it is unsure under what name the outfit will operate next season, particularly if Group Lotus steps in as title sponsor of the Renault F1 squad next season as rumoured.
Naming rights issues aside, the prospects for 2011 look promising for the Higham-based outfit, with recent announcements confirming it has secured the use of customer Renault engines for next season on top of having purchased a customer supply of Red Bull’s transmission units. The team is also in the processing of fitting out a new windtunnel.
In other news, Kovalainen is on the verge of re-signing with the team for the 2011 season, and no doubt the $150,000 in AirAsia shares he is said to have purchased might be his way of ensuring his ongoing employment.
[Original image via LAT]