Heikki Kovalainen: Is His Time Up?

Ryan WoodAnalyst IJuly 17, 2008

Rumors suggest that Niko Rosberg could be joining McLaren in 2009 to replace Heikki Kovalainen, who so far has had only one podium finish. The young Finnish driver has proved he has the pace, with a pole position to his name. And with fuel adjusted times in qualifying he has often outpaced his teammate, Lewis Hamilton.

With the current World Drivers Championship standings reading

1—Hamilton 48 [Mclaren]

2—Massa 48 [Ferrari]

3—Raikkonen 48 [Ferrari]

4—Kubica 46 [BMW]

5—Heidfeld 36 [BMW]

6—Kovalainen 24 [Mclaren]

Heikki looks to have struggled in racing conditions, finishing fifth, third, fifth, Ret, 12th, eighth, ninth, fourth, and fifth. All the while, his teammate in an identical car is tied for the lead in the WDC.

Could this be luck, or raw talent? I believe Heikki has the talent to match Lewis. He is new to the team, this being his rookie season with the Woking crew.

But then 2007 was Hamilton's rookie season with McLaren and Formula One, and he managed joint second place in the WDC. However, Lewis has had time to settle in at McLaren as he has been backed by them throughout his career in karting, and GP2.

So could this be the reason for Heikki's poor race results? Maybe.

Would McLaren really replace him after just one year? It's unlikely, but Rosberg hasn’t poured cold water over the idea of moving. In fact, he has done the exact opposite.

In an interview with a German newspaper he said, “I have a contract for 2009,” but “It's like in football. Look at the situation of Podolski (German Footballer). He has a contract for next season at FC Bayern—but will he be there?"

In 2007, when Alonso left McLaren after his first season with the team, Rosberg seemed the most likely to replace him, after impressing at Williams. Nevertheless, Frank Williams refused to allow Rosberg to leave Williams in 2007. Has anything changed which would make Frank say yes this time?

It would seem not as Frank was quoted as saying that, “No amount of money would be enough for him to part ways with Rosberg.”

If Heikki doesn’t improve in the 2009 season, it does seem likely that Rosberg will replace him after his contract at Williams ends.

What do you F1 Bleacher creatures think?

Are Heikki’s poor results due to this being his first season at McLaren?

Will he improve and fight for the title in 2009? Will he even be at McLaren in 2009?

Do you think a Hamilton-Rosberg duo would work at McLaren? They are already good mates.