The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team today launched the car it will campaign in the 2009 FIA Formula 1 World Championship at its headquarters in Woking. Just like in 2008, Heikki Kovalainen will team up with Lewis Hamilton. The young Finn talks about the upcoming season and the new car.
InterviewWith a season at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes already under your belt, do you feel better prepared than you did a year ago?
“For sure. It’s easy to forget, but I only joined Vodafone McLaren Mercedes in December 2007 so my preparations for the ’08 season happened very quickly. Of course, I felt comfortable straight away but it still takes time to understand exactly how each member of the team is able to help you. For this year, I feel much more integrated into the whole operation and know we can really hit the ground running when we start testing next week.”When did you start your preparations for 2009?
“After Brazil, I took a short break but was soon back at the McLaren Technology Centre preparing with my engineers for the new season. I tested a hybrid car before Christmas and it gave me a good idea of what to expect. I think the new breed of cars will suit me very well. I’ve also been training in the snow of northern Finland – it’s the best place in the world for me to relax and prepare for the year ahead.”What are your targets for the season ahead?
“I feel much better prepared ahead of the new season. I think you can extract a lot of performance simply from good mental preparation, and I really want to look at the positives ahead of me this year rather than becoming too focused on any difficulties. Racing alongside Lewis is the ultimate benchmark and I’d like to think we’ll both be challenging for the drivers’ championship and helping the team to win the constructors’ championship.”
Born October 19 1981; place of birth Suomussalmi, Finland; website www.heikkikovalainen.net (fansite)
2008 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes (7th, one win); 2007 Renault (7th, 30pts); 2006 Renault test driver
2005 GP2 (2nd, 105pts, five wins); 2004 World Series by Nissan (champion, 184pts, six wins), Race of Champions (winner); 2003 World Series by Nissan (2nd, 131pts, one win); 2002 British F3 (3rd, 256pts, five wins); 2001 British Formula Renault (4th, 243pts, two wins)