Lotus confirm Heikki Kovalainen for remainder of 2013

Lotus have confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement for the US and Brazilian Grand Prix will be fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen.

After it was announced that Raikkonen would be missing the last two races of the year to have surgery on his back, it was widely expected that Lotus would promote reserve driver Davide Valsecchi to the seat. Valsecchi, who was the GP2 champion in 2012, has been Lotus’ test and reserve driver for this season, taking part in the Young Driver Test for the team in July.

With the team being locked in a tight battle with Ferrari for third in the Constructors championship, however, it looks like Lotus have chosen to go with a more experienced driver. Kovalainen was dropped at the end of 2012 as Caterham opted to go with a ‘pay driver’, but he has six year of Grand Prix racing under his belt. After a year with Renault, he moved to McLaren in 2008 and stayed with them for the 2009 season. In 2010 he joined Caterham (then Team Lotus) and raced with them for three seasons. During his Formula One career he racked up one win, one pole position and four podiums.

Kovalainen will join Romain Grosjean for this weekend’s US Grand Prix in Austin, and the season finale in Brazil.  He has been driving in some FP1 sessions for Caterham throughout the season, meaning he is familiar with the 2013 Pirelli tyres.

Team Principal Eric Boullier said: “Obviously we had to move quickly following the news of Kimi’s non-participation in the final two races of this season, and we found ourselves facing a difficult decision in terms of who should take the wheel in Austin and São Paulo. On the one hand we had our reserve driver Davide Valsecchi – who is a talented young driver that has shown a great deal of promise – and on the other we had the opportunity to bring in a seasoned Formula 1 competitor in Heikki. Whilst we have every faith in Davide’s abilities, we are obviously involved in a tight Constructors’ Championship battle, so it was decided that the experience Heikki could bring to the team would be invaluable as we aim to finish the year in the best position possible. We must thank Tony Fernandes and Caterham F1 Team for their professional conduct in allowing Heikki to join us for the final races of this season.”

Kovalainen said: ““It is a fantastic opportunity for me to join Lotus F1 Team for the final two races of 2013. We’ve seen this year that the E21 is a car which can win races and finish on the podium, so I will be pushing hard for the best results possible. Jumping into a car so late in the year when you have not been competing in the races all season will be a challenge, but I know the team at Enstone well so I have no concerns about getting up to speed. This is a great opportunity for me, so I would like to thank Tony Fernandes and Caterham F1 Team for allowing me to take advantage of it.”

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Williams confirm Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa for 2014

Williams have announced that Felipe Massa will join them for 2014, replacing Pastor Maldonado as they retain Valtteri Bottas for a second season.

Massa had faced uncertainty about his future after it was revealed that Kimi Raikkonen would be returning to Ferrari to partner Fernando Alonso. After being linked with a number of teams and expressing his desire to continue racing in Formula One, although in a competitive car, Massa will still be on the grid for 2014 after agreeing a contract with Williams.

Team Principal Frank Williams said of Massa, on the official Williams website: “We are delighted to be able to confirm our 2014 driver line-up and welcome Felipe into the Williams family. He is an exceptional talent and a real fighter on the race track; he also brings a wealth of experience as we begin a new chapter in our story”. After a disappointing 2013 campaign, which sees the team lying in ninth place with a solitary point, Williams are determined to bring success back to the team.

Massa’s Formula One career started over a decade ago when he joined Sauber in 2002. He spent 2003 testing for Ferrari, before returning to a race seat in 2004 and 2005 with Sauber. In 2006 he joined Ferrari as a race driver and partnered the likes of Michael Schumacher, Raikkonen and Alonso. He came close to winning the world championship in 2008 and has taken a number of race wins, pole positions, and podiums. With 138 race starts for Ferrari under his belt, only Schumacher has started more for the Scuderia. During his time with Ferrari he has also become part of a well loved friendship with race engineer Rob Smedley, who is rumoured to be heading to Williams as well.

Massa said: “Williams is one of the most successful and important teams of all times in Formula One. When I was a kid, I always dreamed about racing for Williams, Ferrari or McLaren and I’m glad to be signing with another icon of the sport following my time at Ferrari. It is also nice to remember that some of the best Brazilian drivers raced for Williams and cemented a strong national link with the team. I’m highly motivated to start working hard from the very beginning in what is an exciting new challenge in my career.”

Massa will be partnering Bottas for the 2014 season. The Finn joined Williams as a race driver in 2013, after a year of being their test driver. There was a lot of anticipation surrounding his arrival, after impressing in practice and testing. However, the car has been disappointing this year and he has not been able to shine as much as it was thought. He said of his second year at Williams: “I’m very happy to be staying with the team as I embark on my second season in Formula One. I have known everyone here for many years, firstly as a test driver and now as a race driver, so it feels like home. I have faith in Williams and I know we can do so much better in the future than our current performance shows.”

Outgoing driver Pastor Maldonado has been linked with Lotus. In the line-up announcement, the team thanked him for his contribution over the past three seasons, particularly his win at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.

McLaren ’50 in 50′: Kimi Raikkonen

While many drivers spend years working their way through single seater championships, such as Formula 3, GP3 and GP2, Kimi Räikkonen (The Iceman) took a much more direct route. He got his debut with Sauber in 2001 with just 23 single seater races under his belt. His signing was met with concern, with many questioning whether he was ready after so few races. Peter Sauber said at the time: “We are taking a risk, but it is a controlled risk. When I see how cool Kimi is approaching Formula One racing, I do not think there is a danger. We know that it will take Kimi time to find his feet in Formula One, once the racing starts, but our expectations of his long-term potential are very high.” And he was right.

Like most drivers, Räikkonen started karting at an early age. In 1999, when fellow Finn Mika Hakkinen was winning his second world championship, Räikkonen was winning the Formula Renault UK Winter series. In 2000 he continued in Formula Renault UK and became champion for Manor Motorsport. In September of that year Räikkonen was granted a test with Sauber at Mugello, completing 29 laps on day one. Further tests in Jerez and Barcelona ensured Räikkonen had completed enough laps to be granted a superlicence, despite his lack of experience. At the 2001 Australian Grand Prix, Räikkonen made his Formula One debut, scoring a point. The story goes that he was asleep 20 minutes before the start of the race and had to be woken up. He finished the year in tenth place with nine points. Räikkonen was quickly signed up by McLaren, to replace the departing Hakkinen, and it was in 2002 he started his five year relationship with the team.

Lining up against experienced team-mate David Coulthard, Räikkonen impressed from the get-go with McLaren. Achieving his first podium at the Australian Grand Prix, he finished the year in sixth place with 24 points. This included podiums at the European, French and Japanese Grand Prix. In 2003 he went head-to-head with Michael Schumacher for the championship. Nine podiums and his first Formula One victory put him in a good position, but ultimately poor reliability cost him and he ended the year two points shy of Schumacher’s points tally. 2004 produced a mixed bag of results and he ended the year in seventh place. In 2005 Räikkonen was back in contention for the world championship but again reliability problems cost him. Seven wins and five further podiums were his reward, when the car made it to the end of the race, but he still finished 21 points behind Fernando Alonso. 2006 proved to be Räikkonen’s last year with McLaren. It was a season with no wins for the team, but he took six podiums. He departed for Ferrari in 2007 where he became champion.

Räikkonen left McLaren with nine wins – joint fifth in McLaren’s all time wins list, ironically with his favourite driver James Hunt. He also left the team with 26 podiums. Räikkonen has established himself in Formula One as quite a character. The story of him being asleep 20 minutes before his first race gives an insight into him. Reports of his karting career describe his steering wheel breaking in the middle of a race, but him continuing. In 2006, when Schumacher was receiving a presentation from football legend Pele on the grid in Brazil, Räikkonen reported to Martin Brundle at ITV that he missed it because he was “having a shit”. Räikkonen has always been one for saying it as it is. If he retires from a race because of a mechanical problem, his explanation will usually never be more than “the car was broken”. He has won an allegiance of fans for telling it as it is. Winning his first title in 2007, and challenging since his return with Lotus, Peter Sauber has been proven right by taking a risk on Räikkonen!