Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Kovalainen Is Ready to Emerge from the Shadow of Hamilton

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Kovalainen Is Ready to Emerge from the Shadow of Hamilton

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith

Finn plotting a title challenge after growing tired of playing second fiddle to his team-mate.

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN is tired of playing follow-myleader behind McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton and wants to prove he has what it takes to win his own world championship.

The Finn heads into Sunday's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, the opening round of 2009, believing he has discovered why Hamilton has been faster in the same car -- it is a case of familiarity breeding content.

Kovalainen made the breakthrough into F1 in 2007, at the same time as Hamilton who had been mentored by McLaren chief Ron Dennis since his early teens.

"Lewis is a very talented driver, who is very fast, works hard drives well and fights well," said the 27-year-old. "But it's a fact that he's been with McLaren a very long time, he's been in a fantastic school here, learning from great drivers and great engineers. He knows the place inside-out and I'm sure that gives him extra confidence.

"He knows exactly how everything operates and he can just get the last bit of energy into his driving rather than learning about things he doesn't really understand, like when you're new to the team. That makes a big difference.

"Those things combined make him the world champion that he is." Kovalainen moved from Renault at the end of 2007 and he was expected to be able to match his British rival's pace almost straight away.

However, the McLaren car seemed to suit Hamilton's more aggressive driving and Kovalainen struggled to adapt with his own smoother style.

His efforts were also frustrated by bad luck with a broken wheel rim pitching him hard into the barriers in Spain and a rare Mercedes engine failure leaving him sidelined in Japan.

The one positive was a maiden Grand Prix victory in Hungary, and Kovalainen (right) said: "That is something I would like to repeat this year, many times. …

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