23 July 2009 – Where on earth is Heikki Kovalainen? I had to double check to see if he actually has been racing this season. Turns out he has, but he’s been Mr Invisible and has not been seen doing anything … good or bad. So far this year, he has retired from over half of the races, he came 12th in Bahrain, 14th in Turkey and scored 5 world championship points from a 4th place in a wet China and 1pt from Germany 2 weeks ago. But McLaren is rubbish this season, so that explains his results doesn’t it?
Teammate Lewis Hamilton has seemingly not done that much better with only 9 world champion points, but in a rubbish McLaren, this is almost twice as good as Kovalainen. Also, Mr Scherzinger may not have been scoring well but we have seen a lot of his driving this season, battling Alonso at Silverstone for example, and he even took the lead at the beginning of the German Grand Prix, albeit for about 0.1 secs. So why hasn’t Kovalainen been performing better this season?
Could it just be that McLaren has not got a good car and Lewis is simply that much better than him? Some say that Hamilton’s great skill as a driver is to wrestle a performance out of a poor car and this is what explains the exaggerated difference between the two drivers this season. I don’t buy it, there is something going on with Kovalainen. He is not as good as his teammate but he is better than he is been performing.
Kovalainen is a ‘confidence driver’ who needs to get a lot of reassurance from the car to get the most out of it, whereas current drivers such as Hamilton, Alonso and Raikkonen have an inner self-confidence who have unwavering belief in their abilities no matter how the car drives. Kovalainen is a very self-critical driver and has been putting himself under too much pressure, possibly thinking that McLaren will prefer to get someone else in to replace him next season.
Hungary will be a critical race for him as he needs to get his confidence back and I hope and believe he will. He won at the Hungaroring last year and the McLaren is a better car now so maybe we will see a good performance from him.This Sunday’s race is going to be very exciting and Qualifying will be especially tough for all drivers. If Kovalainen can get himself into the top 10 of Q2 then I think he will have a really good race, but if he doesn’t make it then he may end up crashing at the first corner desperately trying to make up places using his KERS button.