The ING Renault F1 Team’s new driver, Heikki Kovalainen, is making his final preparations at home in Finland ahead of the new season. There are only 10 days left before Heikki will make his Grand Prix debut at Melbourne.
Home is where the heart is, or so they say. In that case, Heikki Kovalainen belongs on the back of a rather powerful four-stroke snowmobile!
Just ten days ahead of his Grand Prix debut at the wheel of the new Renault F1 R27, the young Finn is relaxing and training near his home town of Suomussalmi in northern Finland ahead of what promises to be a long, demanding season.
While the 25 year-old may live day to day in Oxford, and drop by unannounced several times a week at the team’s Enstone factory, his roots are firmly in the northern part of his home country – just south of the Arctic Circle.
Out in the snowy, forested countryside, as the mercury hits “15” (the Finnish leave off the ‘minus’ because it’s always below zero in these parts in the winter), the snowmobile is the vehicle of choice – and, as you can imagine, Heikki’s been riding the powerful machines since he was a small boy.
In addition to regular ‘oversteer practice’ on the ski-doo, he has been training hard on his cross-country skis – a perfect workout as he finishes off his physical preparation before the first race of the season. And of course, keeping track of the Finnish team’s progress in the Nordic Skiing World Championships in Sapporo, Japan.
And what plans now for the Finn? Well, the F1 whirlwind truly begins. If you are passing through Terminal 4 on Thursday evening, you may spot the familiar blonde features checking in for a flight to Australia. A training camp this weekend, travel to Melbourne on Wednesday 14 March… and then the real work begins.
So far, Heikki is relaxed, and not thinking too far ahead. But come 10:00 on Friday 16 March in Melbourne, and you can be sure that those steely blue eyes will be focused on just one thing as the number 4 Renault pulls out of the garage, and onto the streets of Albert Park for the very first time…