Lotus drafts in Kovalainen to aid constructors’ fight

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Lotus has confirmed that Heikki Kovalainen will replace the injured Kimi Raikkonen for the final two rounds of the 2013 Formula One season, with the Finn set to return to racing after almost one year since his last grand prix for Caterham.

Kovalainen has been drafted in due to his experience in Formula One, racing between 2007 and 2012 and claiming one race win during this time. Although Lotus’ reserve driver, Davide Valsecchi, was thought to be the logical replacement for Raikkonen, the team has opted to sign a more experienced driver as it looks to pass Ferrari for third place in the constructors’ championship.

“On the one hand we had our reserve driver Davide Valsecchi – who is a talented young driver that has shown a great deal of promise – and on the other we had the opportunity to bring in a seasoned Formula One competitor in Heikki,” team principal Eric Boullier said. “Whilst we have every faith in Davide’s abilities, we are obviously involved in a tight constructors’ championship battle, so it was decided that the experience Heikki could bring to the team would be invaluable as we aim to finish the year in the best position possible.”

Lotus trails Ferrari by just eleven points in the battle for third place, with the difference between P3 and P4 being many millions of dollars in prize money.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for me to join Lotus F1 Team for the final two races of 2013,” Kovalainen said in a statement. “We’ve seen this year that the E21 is a car which can win races and finish on the podium, so I will be pushing hard for the best results possible.”

The Finn will be looking to end his run of finishes outside of the points, having failed to score any since the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix.

Alonso would be ‘very happy’ to finish F1 career with McLaren

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Fernando Alonso says he would be “very happy” to see out his Formula 1 career with McLaren after signing a new multi-year contract with the British team, announced on Thursday.

Alonso, 36, ended speculation about his future by agreeing a new deal with McLaren, hopeful of returning to the front of the field next year when the team swaps Honda power for Renault engines.

Alonso admitted to considering options outside of F1 before agreeing to stay at McLaren, and was thought to only be chasing a one-year extension in order to be in a position to snap up a more attractive seat in the volatile 2019 market.

However, Alonso confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the deal with McLaren stretched beyond the end of next year, adding he would be content to see out his time in the sport with the team.

“I never talk about contracts, but one thing I can say is it is a long-term partnership,” Alonso said.

“I am very happy to finish my career at McLaren. So I don’t think it is going to be only one year.”

Alonso also revealed he had options with teams high up the field in F1 for 2018 just a couple of months ago, but was always leaning to staying at McLaren despite not scoring a podium with the team in almost three years.

“There were some other options in F1. In the summer there were still some options at the top teams, but my desire was to stay with McLaren,” Alonso said.

“But at that time they were in conversation with different engine suppliers, so I had to give them time to sort out their situation.

“Then McLaren opted for a Renault engine which delayed my decision, because I had to understand what Renault’s plans were for next years.

“But when I had everything on the table, everything was pretty clear.”