(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen has admitted that he knew as much as six months ago that he would not be driving a McLaren in 2010.
The 28-year-old Finn, who was Lewis Hamilton's teammate for the past two seasons, has switched for this year to the new Lotus team, after McLaren signed Jenson Button in mid November to replace him.
"I already knew in August that McLaren was planning for 2010 without me," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"Up until the end they were leaving the door open, but as a driver you feel where you are heading, and I had the feeling they were looking for someone else," said Kovalainen.
At the end of July, McLaren did not take up its automatic 2010 option on Kovalainen, despite boss Martin Whitmarsh saying as late as October that "there's a very good possibility Heikki will be driving for the team again".
Kovalainen admits that Briton Hamilton was a tough teammate, but baulks at claims he was blown away by the 2008 world champion.
"With Lewis I had one of the strongest teammates you would ever wish for yourself, and everyone knows that I didn't fare so badly against him, if you consider that at McLaren everything is concentrated on him," said the winner of the 2008 Hungarian grand prix.
The Finn also thinks Michael Schumacher knows he will be fully competitive as he makes his return to F1 this year.
"He would have thought about it very hard," said Kovalainen. "I would bet he knows something we don't -- his friend Ross Brawn will have told him everything about the new car and thinks he can fight for the world title."
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