Kovalainen plays down rift with Caterham’s technical boss Gascoyne
By Berthold Bouman
Heikki Kovalainen has played down the criticism of Caterham’s technical boss Mike Gascoyne, who recently commented that it was the Finn’s lack of respect for the team that had harmed his chances to secure a race seat with Caterham for this season.
The rift started after Kovalainen had said in an interview conducted by Autosport that he believed the limited funding he has is the biggest hurdle in fiding a seat for this season, and also complained thay his recent driving had gone unnoticed.
“Of course we’re working flat-out to see if we can do something about it, but the problem is the results that I’ve had over these last two or three years have not been enough to get in a top car, and then the average teams are in a situation now where they have to take pay drivers, and that rules out the second half of the grid,” Kovalainen said to Autosport.
And he added, “It’s a tricky situation that I’m in now, although people say you’ve driven well, you’ve done a good job, the fact is that 15th or 16th or 17th on paper that is not as good as someone who’s been sixth or seventh or eighth. It was slightly surprising, I thought after last season and the last couple of years I thought I’d be in a better position on the market.”
Heikki Kovalainen – Photo: Catherham F1
Gascoyne last week reacted on Kovalainen’s complaints and stated money indeed plays an important role, and admitted Caterham is considering to replace Kovalainen by a pay driver. “We realise what the game is. People [and teams] boom and bust easily,” he said. “We have come in and done a very steady job compared to other new teams and have been professional, but we’ve taken a step back and said ‘Ok, we are not going to get there straight away, we need to manage our budgets, manage investment and build up our resources so we are here for the long term’.”
Gascoyne, however, thinks there are other reasons the 31-year old driver still hasn’t secured his seat at Caterham, “It is actually a great shame, Heikki is a very talented driver but, last year, his management did not handle him very well and he has not done himself any favours. He has had three years with Caterham, was paid well, and he should have shown more respect about that.”
The rift continued today as Kovalainen played down Gascoyne’s comments. “I have always had a good relationship with him,” he said, adding, “My relationship with him will continue even now. Mike is a seasoned professional and he and I have worked together for a long time.”
The Finn also stated the current negotiations only concern him, Tony Fernandes and Cyril Abiteboul — Caterham’s new Team Principal — and Gascoyne has nothing to do with it. About his future he said, “At the moment, the negotiations are continuing and I am not thinking about anything other than Formula One. First, let’s finish playing the game until the end.”
“Then, when we know the outcome, [we will] think about what to do next.”