Heikki Kovalainen makes Caterham return
- Credit: Archant
Heikki Kovalainen has made a return to Caterham – just four races into the 2013 Formula One season.
The Hingham-backed outfit confirmed on Wednesday the Finn will return as a reserve driver, alongside current reserve Alexander Rossi.
Rossi will now compete for their GP2 team Caterham Racing in the 2013 championship in place of Chinese racer Ma Qing Hua, who made history by being his first countryman to get a free practice seat on Friday – but was some way off the pace in China.
Caterham said his revised 2013 plans will be announced in due course.
Heikki's first duties will be to take part in FP1 at the forthcoming grands prix in Bahrain and Spain to help the technical development of the CT03 and the first performance updates, which are planned for Barcelona.
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'After Ma's successful run in FP1 in China a number of new opportunities have arisen for him and we have decided to restructure our current line-up,' said team principal Cyril Abiteboul.
'Heikki returns to track work with us and we are delighted to welcome him back into the team. He has six years of F1 experience behind him so he is perfectly placed to provide us objective feedback on the various types of configurations we will run, and to give us an objective view of the 2013 tyres against his experience with the 2012 compounds.
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'Having invested in Heikki for our first three years of competition it would be a waste not to leverage the valuable expertise he brings.
'As F1 is a team sport, he will also provide support to Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, who are both doing a good job in their first months with the team.'
Kovalainen had been with the Hingham outfit since its inception in 2010, but did not keep his seat for 2013 – primarily due to Caterham being unable to afford his wages, with the Finn being unable to bring in sponsorship.
'It's obviously great news that I'll be on track in Bahrain and Spain, and I'm really looking forward to getting back to work and helping the team as much as I can,' said Kovalainen.
'I'll be taking part in the two FP1 sessions in Bahrain and Barcelona to give the team my input on the new parts we're bringing to those races, and I'll be working closely with the race drivers and the engineers on track and back at Leafield to help everyone get the most out of the new package.
'Tony, Cyril and I have been talking about me taking up this role for quite a while, so it's good to finally be able to announce how I'll be helping the team in 2013. I'm physically ready to get back into the car and I know my experience can help give the team new ideas and options for directions to take on setup and strategy.
'I'm looking forward to getting back to work!'
The news will help Caterham put behind them another disappointing weekend, after the green duo were sandwiched by the Marussias of Max Chilton and the continually impressing Jules Bianchi.