The Unveiling Of Lotus 2010: Heikki's New Adventure

Antony HerbertAnalyst IIIDecember 14, 2009

SPA FRANCORCHAMPS, BELGIUM - AUGUST 27:  Heikki Kovalainen of Finland and McLaren Mercedes attends the drivers press conference during previews to the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on August 27, 2009 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Lotus have now named their two drivers for the 2010 season.

Predictability and recent speculation dictated that the first seat would go to Jarno Trulli and now Mclaren reject Heikki Kovalainen has emerged as the second driver.

Whether Mclaren made the right choice in replacing Kovalainen with a classy but hardly electric racer in Jenson Button remains to be seen, but Heikki’s lack of performance at Mclaren obviously needed altering and so the Fin was left to fend for himself.

Jarno Trulli therefore must be slightly pleased at the decision of his team mate, as it seemed that last season, at times Timo Glock came too close to his natural qualifying pace and overall performance, threatening his status as top dog at Toyota.

After being outclassed by Fernando Alonso at Renault during their peak, Jarno had the opportunity to direct a team’s quota for success, something he had been doing at Toyota.

And following the Japanese teams’ disillusionment and fall out from the sport it seemed logical for Trulli to do a Coulthard and digress to a team in need of a lead driver who encompasses the brighter aspects of an experienced sporting talent; one who is consistent and able.  

And now he has a team mate at Lotus, who many have doubted, leaving the Italian to potentially dominate proceedings and instate himself as the teams’ number one.

Heikki Kovalainen’s credentials it has to be said are still something of a myth.

Is this man just an average driver in a car that doesn’t deserve him, or has he just been unfortunate to have Giancarlo Fisichella and Lewis Hamilton as a team mates since his inception into the sport?

Or maybe he just needs a mediocre car and the relaxed pressure of having a less successful team mate to elevate his status and improve his portrayed performance. Drivers in recent years such as Rubens Barrichello have often shown that when the heat is off a greater quality of driving becomes the result.

It became clear that towards the end of the 2009 season, that he had promisingly closed the gap between himself and Lewis Hamilton, yet could still only muster the possibility of a podium, never having the skills or pace to threaten a race win.

So his embarrassingly lucky debut win in Hungary last year may never see a follow up with greater credibility attached to it if he had stayed at Mclaren.

Both Heikki and Jarno have begun in the right mindset for Lotus, as they do not expect to return back to the forefront of the sport but remain optimistic that if the firm core work is achieved at their new team then they will be able to fulfil the requirement of establishing a connection to the fans and to conquer the first season tragedies that have befallen debut teams in recent years.

Trulli you would think will be the main point of progress for the team and their spectators as it will be his qualifying efforts that will first seize the opportunity to judge the ability of the returning Lotus team.

A balance then could indeed be struck by Kovalainen whose race pace has never been disastrous, but more equipped than the Trulli train that emerges when Jarno qualifies above his capability and is left to fall backwards throughout race day events.

Both drivers collectively are capable of consistency in some respects and therefore could represent a solid foundation for the Lotus team to build upon.

They know that a concrete foundation laid out will allow them to progress the team in a direction that will create opportunity and to achieve results.

For Heikki he now remains Finland’s sole representation, and considering the departure of the last two of his countrymen were the fall outs of former champions he will have high boots to fill.

He has become the sort of driver who slightly portrays the stern and steely attitude recognised in possession of Finnish drivers, but one who at this moment in his career has yet to find the inspiration or quality to capture and instigate this feared composure.

Let’s just hope he enables himself with enough grit and determination to accomplish the unexpected and spearhead his career into full momentum.

If there is one thing that we have learned with previous Scandinavian drivers it is that flying a white flag is one of the last things they would ever be willing to do. We need to see this in Heikki too for this demonstration to continue and ultimately for him to earn a constant race seat in Formula 1 in years to come.