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Kovalainen rejoins Caterham as reserve

ESPN Staff
April 17, 2013 « Porsche denies Webber rumours | Raikkonen backing for Pirelli »
Heikki Kovalainen lost his drive with Caterham at the end of 2012 © Sutton Images
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Heikki Kovalainen has rejoined Caterham as one of its reserve drivers and will make his first appearance back in the car this weekend in Bahrain.

Having been replaced at the end of last season as Caterham opted for a line-up of Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, Kovalainen was unable to find a seat elsewhere on the grid. Now Caterham has re-employed him in a 'formal technical development role' with the primary aim of helping the team introduce its major update to the 2013 car.

Kovalainen replaces Ma Qing Hua as one of the reserve drivers and said he had been discussing the move for a while with team owner Tony Fernandes and team principal Cyril Abiteboul.

"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," Kovalainen said. "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.

"Tony, Cyril 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!"

The team's other reserve driver Alexander Rossi takes over Ma's GP2 drive, Ma's future is unclear but Abiteboul says "a number of new opportunities have arisen for him", while trying to play down any pressure on the current race drivers.

"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," Abiteboul said. "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."