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Old 04-17-2013, 05:32 AM   #783
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Kovalainen rejoins Caterham as reserve

Heikki Kovalainen will take part in first practice for this weekend’s 2013 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix after rejoining Caterham to serve as one of two reserve drivers alongside Alexander Rossi.

Kovalainen, a former race winner with McLaren, competed for Caterham from 2010 to 2012, before he and team mate Vitaly Petrov were dropped in favour of Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde for the 2013 season.

The 31-year-old Finn will participate in FP1 at the next two Grands Prix as part of a formal technical development role he is taking up with Caterham, helping support the introduction of the team’s first performance updates to their 2013 car, the CT03.

“It’s obviously great news that I’ll be on track in Bahrain and Spain and I’m really looking forward to getting back to work and helping the team as much as I can,” said Kovalainen. “I’ll be taking part in the two FP1 sessions in Bahrain and Barcelona to give the team my input on the new parts we’re bringing to those races, and I’ll be working closely with the race drivers and the engineers on track and back at Leafield to help everyone get the most out of the new package.

“(Caterham Group Co-Chairman) Tony (Fernandes), (team principal) Cyril (Abiteboul ) and I have been talking about me taking up this role for quite a while, so it’s good to finally be able to announce how I’ll be helping the team in 2013. I’m physically ready to get back into the car and I know my experience can help give the team new ideas and options for directions to take on setup and strategy. I’m looking forward to getting back to work!”

Kovalainen’s appointment is part of a larger restructuring of Caterham’s driver line-up, with Rossi moving to Caterham Racing to compete in the 2013 GP2 Series in the car raced by Ma Qing Hua at the season-opening GP2 race in Malaysia.

Caterham say that Ma, who recently made history by becoming the first Chinese racing driver to take part in an F1 race weekend in China, remains a core member of their F1 driver roster and an announcement about his revised 2013 race plans will be made in due course.

“After Ma’s successful run in FP1 in China a number of new opportunities have arisen for him and we have decided to restructure our current line-up,” explained Abiteboul. “Alexander moves to Caterham Racing to compete in GP2 and I am sure he will be an immediate success in that championship whilst he will continue to enjoy the link with the F1 team throughout the season.

“Heikki returns to track work with us and we are delighted to welcome him back into the team. He has six years of F1 experience behind him so he is perfectly placed to provide us objective feedback on the various types of configurations we will run and to give us an objective view of the 2013 tyres against his experience with the 2012 compounds.

“Having invested in Heikki for our first three years of competition it would be a waste not to leverage the valuable expertise he brings. As F1 is a team sport, he will also provide support to Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, who are both doing a good job in their first months with the team.”

Caterham lie 11th in the 2013 table, with their best result of the season to date Pic’s 14th place in Malaysia.
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