F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Practice

Kovalainen pleased with practice performance

Leave a comment

Heikki Kovalainen is pleased with his performance for Caterham in free practice one today as the Finnish driver returned to the wheel of a Formula One car for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix.

Kovalainen is a former grand prix winner, but he was dropped by Caterham at the end of last season after the team elected for a completely fresh line-up for 2013 in the form of Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. However, he has remained with Caterham in their reserve driver role, testing the car and helping with development – something he was pleased to have done today at Spa.

“The weather was a little bit challenging, but we still managed to do some reasonably good work, so I’m pretty happy,” Kovalainen said. “No issues. We were able to get quite a lot of information and I had a good feel for the car.”

The Finn also noted a big step forward in the pace of the CT-03 car compared to his last practice session in May.

“There are definitely areas that have improved a lot, a couple of areas that still could be improved. The ride of the car is better, so the car is running smoother and it’s an area that we’ve been working on, so generally the grip level of the car has improved so we have added more performance to the car.”

As for a race seat in the near future, Kovalainen is unsure whether or not he will be on the grid in 2014. However, he is not worried about this as he focuses on his role with Caterham.

“It’s very difficult to say right now. I have not spoken to anyone, I have not spoken to any other teams, I have not spoken to Caterham about the race seat yet. I’m just focused on my role right now.

“Of course, I want to race, there’s no hiding about that fact, but I’m not letting it bother me too much. Sometimes things go to plan, sometimes they don’t. This year, this is what was available for me so I’m just trying to make the most of this. I feel that I’m ready to race if needed and I think today shows if I had to jump into the car, it’s no problem.”

Kovalainen will also represent Caterham during free practice one at the Italian Grand Prix next month, replacing Giedo van der Garde for the ninety minute session.

Status targets 2016 GP2 title after GP3 exit

2015 GP2 Series Round 8.
Autodromo di Monza, Italy.
Sunday 6 September 2015.
Marlon Stockinger (PHL, Status Grand Prix) 
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _G7C2088
© GP2 Series
Leave a comment

Status Grand Prix has set its sights on winning the 2016 GP2 Series championship following its decision to close down its GP3 team at the end of the current season.

Earlier this week, GP3 issued a statement confirming its team roster for the next three seasons that featured new entries from DAMS and Virtuosi Racing.

However, both Carlin and Status did not appear on the list, signalling that both had opted to leave GP3 at the end of 2015.

Status first entered GP3 back in 2010, but only set up a GP2 team in 2015 after taking over the old Caterham Racing operation.

This will now become the main focus for the Irish outfit, though, as explained by team boss Teddy Yip Jr. earlier this week.

“Status Grand Prix has not renewed entry into the GP3 Series from 2016 onwards in order to maximize focus on our GP2 campaign,” Yip said.

“Having finished second in the team championship in the inaugural GP3 Series, we have enjoyed six successful years in the category collecting nine race wins, 26 podium finishes and vying for numerous team and driver titles.

“We are very proud to have given opportunities and achieved success with drivers such as Robert Wickens, Antonio Felix da Costa, Alexander Sims and our current GP2 race winner, Richie Stanaway.

“We now look forward to finishing the 2015 GP2 and GP3 seasons on a high before mounting a robust GP2 title campaign in 2016.”

Both GP2 and GP3 return from a one-month break next weekend in support of the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix.

Hakkinen: Verstappen is already “a real pro”

during a media interview at the Shanghai Grand Theatre prior to the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards on April 15, 2015 in Shanghai, China.
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen has heaped praise upon Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen, supporting his decision to ignore team orders during last month’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Verstappen only turned 18 on Wednesday, but has already made a big impression on the F1 world during his first 14 races with his aggressive driving style and mature approach to racing.

In Singapore, Verstappen was told by Toro Rosso to let faster teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. go past, but refused to give up his position and eventually beat the Spaniard to finish eighth.

Writing in his Hermes blog, Hakkinen backed Verstappen’s decision to stay ahead and praised the Dutchman for his performances so far this season.

“A driver must be alert and keep track of what is happening around him at all times,” Hakkinen wrote. “That’s what Verstappen is. He does not simply let anyone pass if it’s not for the world championship, but only a few championship points.

“Verstappen is 18 years old, but the guy’s already a real pro. Young people are developing incredibly fast nowadays, and by that I don’t mean just drivers.”

Despite having more than half a season of F1 racing under his belt, Verstappen only gained his road driver’s license on his 18th birthday, having previously been under the age limit to drive a regular car in public.