Is Heikki Kovalainen Being Shown to the Exit at McLaren?

Billy SextonAnalyst IAugust 19, 2009

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 08:  (EDITORS NOTE: THIS BLACK AND WHITE IMAGE WAS CREATED FROM ORIGINAL COLOUR FILE)  Heikki Kovalainen of Finland and McLaren Mercedes prepares to drive during practice for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 8, 2009 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

With contracts being signed and deals being made for 2010, new breaking news has emerged that Heikki Kovalainen could well be on his way out of McLaren Mercedes.

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh has revealed that although McLaren would like to keep the Finnish driver, his results must improve. 

"He hasn't raced as well as he would have liked, and we would have liked him to, this year," said Whitmarsh.

It is Whitmarsh's desire for Heikki to follow through on his qualifying performances on Sunday afternoons and start getting on the podium and winning races, now that the car has the ability.

When asked about who could replace Heikki, if results do not improve, Whitmarsh said the following; "In terms of nationality, some nationalities from a marketing perspective are obviously more convenient."

So you'd like a German driver in the team than Martin?

This comment has caused a huge amount of speculation that either Nico Rosberg, Nick Heidfeld, or Adrian Sutil could be on the way to the number two car at McLaren. From Lewis Hamilton's perspective, Nick Heidfeld would be ideal.

You may be wondering why I say Heidfeld and not Rosberg, but let's look at it carefully. Lewis will want to remain number one. That's for sure. If Rosberg or Sutil came into the team, that might not happen.

Both are young drivers with a career ahead of them, and will want to do the best they can to mount a championship challenge should the car allow them to. This obviously would be a threat to Hamilton, who wants to carry on winning championships after this 2009 blip is over.

So Heidfeld would be perfect. He is out of a team for 2010. He has a lot of experience and is consistent with points in a good car...and he also isn't that great—no disrespect, but zero wins from 160 starts, it speaks for itself. 

And McLaren could give him that chance of a win whilst also keeping Lewis at number one. Perfect, from a Lewis Hamilton point of view that is.

Moving back to the main topic, Heikki looks to be on his way out, unless he pulls something out the bag. 

However, I don't really see why he is facing the sack.

Sure, his 2008 campaign wasn't great, finishing seventh whilst his teammate was world champion, but he got a few podiums and a win. Very consistent with points. 

2009 has been disastrous though. But that isn't just for Kovalainen, Hamilton has had a terrible run as well; before Hungary, the world champion had nine points from nine races. Kovalainen had five points from nine races. Not that much of a gap, considering one driver has had all major upgrades first and drives the number one car of the whole grid.

So what will be will be, but this is guaranteed to be an exciting story to follow over the coming months.