F1 Driver Review: Heikki Kovalainen

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After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship season, my colleague Chris Estrada and I are taking a look back on how each of the 23 Formula One drivers who took to the grid fared this past year.

Filling in at Lotus for the final two races of 2013 was veteran driver Heikki Kovalainen…

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN

No. 7 Lotus-Renault (two races)
2013 Stats: 0 Wins, 0 Podiums, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10s, 0 Laps Led (Best Finish: 14th, United States and Brazil)
Average Start: 9.5
Average Finish: 14.0
DNFs: 4

DiZinno says: Heikki Kovalainen did very well to get into Q3 at Austin in his substitute role for Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus, and had it not been for needing a front wing change he could well have scored points. Brazil was a more difficult weekend by comparison. With only two races to observe, it’s hard to call his 2013 anything other than “incomplete.”

Estrada says: It’s an admittedly small sample of races to judge Kovalainen on, and his first race for Lotus at Austin was marred by front wing and KERS issues. But the season finale at Brazil saw him unable to get on pace. In the end, the team brought him in to bolster its bid for second in the Constructors’ title race and he didn’t get the job done. Whether that will have an impact on him gaining a ride for 2014 remains to be seen.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

How to Watch Nitro Rallycross

Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.