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DATE News (chronologically)
11/02/10
f1
Briatore blocked Kovalainen debut in 2004, 2005  UPDATE
Heikki Kovalainen
This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  Heikki Kovalainen has denied media reports claiming his former manager Flavio Briatore twice prevented his formula one race debut.

A Finnish newspaper had said the Finn could have raced with Minardi and then Williams in 2004 and 2005, but Kovalainen instead had to wait until 2007 for a race seat at the then Briatore-managed Renault to open up.

Kovalainen, now 29, subsequently split with Briatore after the crashgate scandal, and negotiated his own move from McLaren to Lotus for 2010.

But he wrote on Twitter late on Monday: "(The) news about my management blocking my career (is) so not true.

"We had (a) clear plan since I joined (the) Renault junior program and stuck to it 100 per cent.  Ignore the false headlines originating from Finland," added Kovalainen.

In other driver news, Williams refused to comment on speculation about its 2011 lineup, following reports that Pastor Maldonado is a candidate to join the team next year if Nico Hulkenberg does not accept the offer of a five-year contract.

"We have no comment to make concerning our driver line up for 2011 at this juncture," said a spokeswoman.

11/01/10 (GMM)  Flavio Briatore twice blocked Heikki Kovalainen's formula one race debut, according to a Finnish report.

The Turun Sanomat newspaper said the 29-year-old, who in 2010 is contesting his fourth season with a third separate team, could have made his debut in 2004.

Actually, Kovalainen debuted in 2007 with Renault, then run by his former manager Briatore.

But he tested with Minardi as far back as late 2003 and was almost signed for the following season by the Faenza based team's boss Paul Stoddart.

At the same test was Jose Maria Lopez, Kovalainen recalls.

"I was clearly faster than him," he said.  "Paul Stoddart would have offered the seat to me, I was ready, but my management had a different view."

According to the report, another opportunity for Kovalainen came ahead of the 2005 season, when he met with Williams' Sir Frank Williams, Patrick Head and Sam Michael at Grove.

But Briatore reportedly called off the talks when he decided that Kovalainen should contest a season of GP2 before becoming Renault's full-time test driver in 2006.

"Of course, each time when you have a chance to go into F1 and you don't, you are disappointed," Kovalainen confirmed.

He split with Briatore after last year's crashgate scandal, and negotiated his own move from McLaren to Lotus for 2010.

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