Heikki Kovalainen may be making his Formula One comeback at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix in Friday practice, but the Finn is unlikely to make a full-time return to racing anytime soon.
“Of course I want to race,” he told Sky Sports. “Being here puts me in a better position if a race drive ever becomes available here, or even somewhere else.
“But right now I have no plans to race.”
After a disappointing start to the season, rumors had begun to circulate suggesting that Caterham could replace Charles Pic or Giedo van der Garde with Kovalainen, who raced for the team between 2010 and 2012. However, the one-time grand prix winner insists that he is not getting ahead of himself.
“I made it very clear that this is my position and if it leads to not having a race drive then that’s what it does. I’ve kept myself fit and kept in touch with people here. If something comes up, I’ll be ready to jump in.”
Kovalainen rejected racing in any series besides Formula One, despite the likes of Bruno Senna and Kamui Kobayashi finding success in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“In this part of my career, Formula 1 is what really interests me. I could still do a lot of good things here. I’ve left the door open here, kept looking and working at the same time to make sure that if something happens, I’m ready.”
It is hard to tell quite where Kovalainen stands with Caterham without knowing more about his financial backing. However, this free practice run-out suggests that he could be closing on a return to the sport, although it is unclear whether that will be with his old team or not.
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.