Heikki Kovalainen: Unlucky Or Useless?

Adam FlinnCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2008

OK, maybe useless is too strong a word to describe Heikki's first season at Mclaren. After all, he did score his first Formula 1 victory and collect 53 points over the course of the year. But compare this to Hamilton's five race victories and 98 points, then it doesn't look too impressive for the Finn.

Heikki had more than his fair share of bad luck in 2008. The crash in Spain, a puncture in Turkey, a stall in Monaco, a blown engine in Japan, hydraulics problems in China, and several races where he had issues with his tires all cost him valuable points.

In contrast to this, his only significant stroke of good luck came from Felipe Massa's exploding engine at Hungary, gifting him an unlikely win. However, that only gave him an extra two points, which is a lot less than what he would have got if it had not been for all his bad luck.

I would have also expected him to win the Italian GP. With his main rivals a long way behind, he only had to beat a Toro Rosso, yet Vettel completely outpaced him. He said at the time he was disappointed not to win and I expect Ron Dennis was as well, considering Hamilton's pace during the same race.

Kovy did have some decent drives throughout the year, such as beating his teammate at Malaysia and being in the right position to inherit the win at Hungary, but I get the feeling he has underperformed. He only managed three podiums and failed to score on seven occasions, and after a decent second-half to 2007 I expected more from the Finnish driver.

In my opinion, Nick Heidfeld has been one of the biggest disappointments in 2008, yet he still managed to outscore Kovalainen in a slower car. Even Alonso, who only had 21 points after the German Grand Prix, managed to be classified higher than Heikki.

So did he just have a bad year? Sadly, I think not. He has the ability to produce some great drives, but I don't think he can consistently produce great drives, and I can't see him driving a Mclaren in 2010. Rosberg would probably be the most likely to take his place and who knows, maybe Rosberg will be in a Mclaren during 2009...