Heikki Kovaleinen Could Step out of Lewis Hamilton's Shadow in Magny-Cours

Oliver TennantContributor IJune 17, 2008

The first seven races of Heikki Kovaleinen's Mclaren career haven't been exactly what he would have been hoping for.

A move from Renault to Mclaren after a year of racing in F1, and Kovaleinen's luck seemed to be in. More fool Alonso! But having arrived at Mclaren he's had a series of unlucky results with only one podium, surely not the results he'd been expecting.

It hasn't been for lack of pace either. On many occasions this year Heikki has been ultimately quicker than Lewis in terms of fuel-corrected qualifying times, but when it's come to getting the car home without a hitch, problems have arisen.

In Melbourne there was bad luck with the timing of the safety car and an accidental switching on of the pitlane limiter down the start straight, meant Alonso re-passing him.

In Spain there was obviously the huge accident that could have been very nasty, in Turkey there was a first lap puncture and in Monaco stalling on the grid meant starting from the pitlane. Montreal was equally disappointing.

The team has been extremely supportive of the little Finn despite all this, saying that he's had great pace but just no luck and you have to agree really. Martin Whitmarsh has really taken Heikki under his wing and you feel that this driver lineup at Mclaren will last a long time.

Now going into Magny Cours you feel that the misfortune can't last any longer. Lewis will start no higher than 11th, the Mclaren has been working well in the past three races and the disappointments of previous races are surely going to spur the likeable young Finn on.

Fuji 2007 is the only real stand-out drive from Kovaleinen's brief F1 career but I've got a feeling that he and we might remember Magny Cours 2008 forever.