Kovalainen closing in on Caterham return (3rd Update) UPDATE #3 (GMM) Caterham's team boss has refused to deny speculation Giedo van der Garde could lose his race seat.
Rumors in the past days and weeks have suggested the underperforming Dutch rookie could be replaced in the near future by former team driver Heikki Kovalainen.
When asked about the van der Garde/Kovalainen rumors in Hungary, team boss Cyril Abiteboul admitted the sponsored Dutchman "has some challenges" in using this year's Pirelli tires.
"We have to see how the changes to the tires this weekend are affecting him, but also how the upgrades to the car are affecting his challenge," he said.
"But just like everyone, he's being challenged, just like I am challenged on a daily basis by our shareholders.
"So like everyone, he has to deliver but he has no particular pressure, no more pressure than any other driver on the grid," Abiteboul added.
Meanwhile, van der Garde's teammate in 2013 is Charles Pic, who told RMC Sport that his future beyond this season is currently open.
"The key for me is to continue my development this year," he said.
"It's still too early in the season to talk about my future. I feel very good at Caterham, but if opportunities arise, we will look at them," added Pic.
07/22/13 (GMM) Heikki Kovalainen has played down rumors he is shaping up to oust the underperforming rookie Giedo van der Garde at Caterham.
The team, having earlier paid the highly rated Finn Kovalainen since formation in 2010, opted for a pair of sponsored drivers this year.
But in the Silverstone and Nurburgring paddocks most recently, the rumor that Kovalainen could soon return to the wheel - in van der Garde's place - gained in strength.
"I think this (sort of rumor) is quite common in formula one, when someone has a bad race," Kovalainen told the Russian website f1news.ru.
"I have not had any negotiations with the team, and I have no plans to take someone else's place, so I don't know where it all comes from.
"I am calm about it, but if someone needs me, of course I'm ready," added Kovalainen.
Indeed, the 31-year-old is continuing to work with Caterham behind the scenes.
"Absolutely," he said. "I spend a lot of time with the designers and engineers, we have a brand new and very good simulator, and all of the team's efforts are aimed now at 2014.
"Of course my goal is to get back in the races, but my only plan at the moment is to keep working with Caterham, and doing everything I can to help.
"I have nothing more to add," said Kovalainen.
07/02/13 (GMM) Giedo van der Garde has dismissed rumors he could be set to lose his 2013 Caterham seat to former team driver Heikki Kovalainen.
|Giedo van der Garde|
We reported at the weekend that it was possible Finn Kovalainen, back in the paddock at Silverstone, could now return to Caterham's race lineup, at Dutchman van der Garde's expense.
"Nothing has been agreed, so do not try to guess," Kovalainen told Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper at Silverstone.
But 28-year-old van der Garde dismissed the speculation, in conversation with the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
"There are always rumors," he said.
"I know where they are coming from, but I also know that I have a watertight contract for the rest of this season."
De Telegraaf acknowledged, however, that in the wake of van der Garde's dismal race in Canada, where he was penalized by the FIA for collisions, Caterham team owner Tony Fernandes was in contact with Kovalainen.
06/29/13 (GMM) Heikki Kovalainen is closing in on a return to the formula one grid, Finland's well-connected Turun Sanomat newspaper reports.
The Finn spearheaded Caterham's race lineup until this year, when the team opted for the sponsored drivers Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic.
But Kovalainen, who appeared in Friday practice for the green-clad team in Bahrain and Barcelona, is back in the paddock at Silverstone this weekend.
Turun Sanomat reports rumors the 31-year-old could be drafted back into Caterham's race lineup, at Dutchman van der Garde's expense.
Kovalainen said: "Nothing has been agreed, so do not try to guess.
"But I am ready to go in all respects, and yes I would rather be here to be racing than not," he added.