It has been almost 14 years since, in the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen he won his first and only race in Formula 1 at the wheel of the McLaren, but the Finn’s success often seems to overshadow those achieved by other riders in that period. More than for the demerits of the one who retired from the Circus in 2013, this ‘forgetfulness’ is also due to the teammate who supported him in the two-year period 2008-2009namely that Lewis Hamilton who took the stage by first taking the title, in the first season mentioned, and winning twice in the second, even in a year characterized by the domination of Brawn GP.
In short, Kovalainen’s career in F1 did not take off also due to the talent of the Englishman, such as to compromise the exploit of the Finnish born in 1981. This was confirmed by the person concerned, who, in an interview with talkSPORTsaid how extremely difficult it was to get the better of a driver like Hamilton, even more so as a teammate: “Every now and then I was able to match him, but throughout the whole season I had to stretch each session to achieve it – recalled the 40-year-old – by dint of adopting this strategy we end up running out of energy, and this was my case: I did not have the necessary ability to make the times and races he did, and it wasn’t easy at all. His performance level is so high that, even for super talents like Max Verstappen, staying at his level requires a lot of effort, a lot of concentration, a lot of energy, so not everyone can handle this task “.
Regardless of what his testimony was, Kovalainen also cited the example of the confrontation that took place between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in 2016in the season in which the German managed to win the world title and then immediately retired from F1: “I think he had to use all the tools he had in his toolbox to be able to beat Lewis, and this one it nearly killed him – he specified – he said it himself: he could not have done another season like this, or he would have died “. To confirm the difficulty of facing a driver like Hamilton, there would also have been the choices made in his career by another champion like Fernando Alonsoalso a former teammate of the Brit in 2007 when the latter made his F1 debut: “After the years in Renault – since 2008 – always made the wrong move – remarked Kovalainen – I sometimes wonder if the trigger was Hamilton’s surprise speed. If that were the case, then the clashes with Ron Dennis and the team didn’t allow him to go where he would have liked, relying on a Renault that was a bit lacking in performance. Since, he never really recovered“.