Heikki Kovalainen in focus

by Lewis Larkam/ESPN.co.uk
London (UK), 07 Aug 2016

Former Formula One driver Heikki Kovalainen has revealed he lost confidence during his time driving alongside Lewis Hamilton for McLaren in 2009.

In a blog post for the official McLaren website, the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix winner opened up about his spell at the Woking-based outfit and admitted he was affected by a difficult 2009 campaign.

'As a team they were able to help me and guide me,' Kovalainen said. 'I became a better driver, but I think I lost a bit of confidence during the second half of 2009.

'I had a great opportunity, and I felt it started very well. But quite often in motor sport and in life small things can change your direction and change the outcome.'

The Finn scored 22 points compared to Hamilton's 49 as McLaren struggled to adapt to significant new regulation changes brought in for 2009 and managed just two race victories - both recorded by Hamilton.

'I just wasn't able to extract from the car as much as Lewis was. It was an important time, and I obviously needed some results at that point.

'I mentally wasn't sharp enough to really try to get more out of it. Also Lewis got some [new car] parts ahead of me, and maybe I let it affect me a little bit when he got slightly better service, if you like.

'I felt I was the number two, but I should have ignored that and just got on with the job. I wasn't driving as well as I was before.'

'Martin Whitmarsh kept me up to date. He told me early on that they will look for another driver, they will look for Kimi [Räikkönen], and they were also looking for Jenson Button. But both of those drivers might not be available, and Martin said to me if not, then you'll be the third choice.

'I was in America and it was Thanksgiving Day when Martin called me to say, "We have signed Jenson." My results weren't good enough, and I was kind of expecting it.

'But I have good memories of McLaren, and it was the best team I ever worked with, a really great team and a powerful team. Sometimes nowadays when I see them struggling I feel sorry for them, and I hope they can come back to where they should be.'