Kovalainen, Rosberg and Sutil in running for ’08 McLaren drive

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Lewis Hamilton has named the three drivers he thinks is most likely to be offered the seat alongside him at McLaren next season.

Ashed who would drive alongside him next year Hamilton said: “[Nico] Rosberg, [Adrian] Sutil or [Heikki] Kovalainen. The most important thing is that he is a team player.”

The trio from Williams, Spyker and Renault respectively are, like Hamilton, relative newcomers to the sport, only one of which has more F1 experience than he does.

Heikki Kovalainen

Surely the top contender, Kovalainen would be Ron Dennis’s third Finnish driver in seven years, following Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen.

Moreover, it would allow a straight swap with Renault for the outgoing Fernando Alonso.

But Renault boss (and Kovalainen’s manager) Flavio Briatore has indicated that Alonso would only be looking for a one-year contract with Renault, and would not want to face going into 2009 with neither Alonso nor Kovalainen

Both have beaten Renault incumbent Giancarlo Fisichella with little difficulty. Having said that, he does have the promising Nelson Piquet Jnr waiitng in the wings.

Nico Rosberg

McLaren has not had a German driver throughout its 13-year association with Mercedes-Benz, so there’s clearly no pressure from that side.

Rosberg impressed mightily in his second season of F1, however, and is a friend of Hamilton’s and a former team mate of his from when the pair were in karting.

But Rosberg might not be cheap to extract from his current surroundings – he is currently contracted to Williams and coveted by Toyota.

Adrian Sutil

Another German, and perhaps a surprise to see mentioned in line with a McLaren drive after a rookie season that could be most charitably described as competent with occasional flashes of promise.

But Hamilton and Sutil were team mates in the F3 Euroseries two years ago when Hamilton decimated the opposition. A grateful Sutil could be counted upon not to rock the boat.

Photos: Steven Tee / LAT Photographic | Andrew Ferraro / LAT Photographic | Spyker / Egmond

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “Kovalainen, Rosberg and Sutil in running for ’08 McLaren drive”

  1. I dont think that Flavio would le go od Kovalainen. Rosberg would be a good choice and Mclaren have the money to buy him out of his contract. Anyways, Lewis will be the number 1 driver in his team and Rosberg would be perfect for this position.

  2. I’ve said it before that rosberg should be paired with Hamilton – the reason – he’s german and during all the trials of last season Mercedes have stood solidly by Mclaren and deserve too see along with the german fans as well – too see a german driver with promise in a competitive car fighting for points.

  3. It’d be interesting to see Sutil get the drive, bit of a wildcard thrown in there!

  4. Frank already said in Brazil that he’s not letting go of Nico. It’s no use having a good car (which is what Williams could have in a TC-free 2008) if you don’t have a good driver.

    Besides, Ron and Frank have this ages-old deal that they won’t steal/buyout each other’s contracted drivers.

    And already, Heikki has admitted talking to McLaren. I think that’s how it will end up.

    I was surprised Sutil ended up in that list. I only see him figuring in this as a replacement for Nico if he’s McLaren-bound.

  5. AmericanTifosi
    4th November 2007, 2:55

    Sutil? Has the world gone mad?

  6. It’s not easy to judge Sutil because of his car – most graduates into F1 into a backmarking team are so-so but it tends not to be a performance limited effort in the driver but the car. And Sutil’s outperformed his car quite consistently. When you think about SOME of the drivers that started off in a Minardi and where they ended up/have accomplished (saying no names!)…it’s a good sign for Sutil – maybe worth a gamble – but thats what it is, a gamble.

    Every one of those drivers don’t really have a lot of F1 experience, and would McLaren want an all “rookie” based team? Would that benefit Lewis Hamilton? (considering the alleged copying of Alonso’s data and setups) It’s not as simple when you’re a top running team – you shouldn’t be picking what is convenient – but what is for the greater good.

    I like Kovalainen, so if he ends up at McLaren I hope he does well – he’s been my rookie of the 2007 season only because there’s been a progression in character.

  7. McLaren can either go for these 3 young guns, or choose someone like Liuzzi, or get the experience available on the market – Fisichella, R.Schumacher, Barrichello. Button and his experience may be fitting McLaren needs best from the drivers now on grid, but as said also on this site many times, 2 Brits in the same team will not probably happen.

    So given these options, I would prefer to have 2 young guns than pairing Hamilton with those experienced one but way pass their sell by date…

    From the 3 mentioned here, Rosberg would probably be the no 1 choice, as he has already 2 years racing in F1 under his belt. Kovalainen however is the one I expect to get the drive especially if Alonso does end up in Renault.

    If McLaren ends up with drivers line up Hamilton/Kovalainen they will need de la Rosa more than before, or even get some other experienced driver on board for testing and set up duties. And they have to hope, they avoid making rookie hot head mistakes as Hamilton (agree with me or not) displayed in Monaco race, Hungary qualifying, and China and Brazil races…

  8. fisi, liuzzi, ralf or rubens?
    no way!
    flav would only let mclaren have kovy if he can have alonso, but then again kovy isnt contracted! so flav could end up losing them both esp if alonso cant drive for a manufacturer team i.e Renault!
    as a wild card, i’d say alonso to goto up and comer red bull and webber to mclaren?
    watch this space…

  9. webber never – there is already a bit of bad blood between him and hamilton – also – didnt frank say that he would never let button go – until money was offered? – question is how much this time and with winter practise looming has too be soon – pedro may leave shortly as well – must be texting alonso allready!!

  10. I put my money on Heikki, He is good driver. He showed us in the WSR and GP2. And his drive in the Renault was very good indeed!
    Rosberg seems a good pick, but I don’t think Frank wants him out. And Nico will show respect and stay (imho)
    Sutil is too big a risk to put him in the car…unless they want a #1 and #2 driver and support Lewis.
    But if you look at what Heikki is saying, he is McLaren bound…and Fernando will go to Renault, as he knows it’s a good team… altough Fernando in a Williams is what I want to see!

  11. You guys confuse the hell out of me! You spend the entire season villifying Alonso for expecting No1 status and praising McLaren’s ‘equality’ policy. Then the instant Alonso leaves, McLaren’s policy disappears and “Hamilton is is McLaren’s No 1 driver”!! What’s happened? I hope, for Hamilton’s own sake, that McLaren stick to their previous plan, because he simply does not have the experience to lead that team on his own. He completely lost his way two thirds through the season by – in his own words – went away from Alonso’s set up. For one thing, someone needs to teach him that tyres have to be looked after occasionally.

  12. I dont agree with you John. If Kovalainen will be his teammate then why wouldn’t there be a No1 policy? If one of the drivers are better then why try to make the other guy win?
    Hamilton and Alonso were equally good drivers but there isn’t another driver like Alonso on the market.

  13. john – alonso expected no1 treatment – hamilton doesn’t – it would be good for him to have another young driver next to him as a team mate to keep him honest – and frank if offered enough money wil let rosberg go – they need money – and I think rosberg would love the chance to move

  14. Does Gary Paffet still test for Mclaren, he nows the car and the team very well, might be a surprise choice.

  15. john who said that? :)

  16. Sutil might be a better option for McLaren than he seems as Rosberg and Kovalainen are both potential world title contenders. Sutil isn’t, and he’d be ecstatic to get a drive at a top team, so ecstatic he would do exactly what McLaren wanted as long as Hamilton is no. 1 at McLaren. Rosberg and Kovalainen would want to be treated equally. Also, Keke probably wouldn’t want Nico thrown into a team that now belongs to Hamilton, and Flav will be the same with Heikki.

  17. To be honest, we should all remember that McLaren will always have an equal driver policy. Both have the chance to win. But they rarely are risky enough to have to drivers who can win. Ron was burnt before, don’t pretend this situation was new to him. He was told to keep his team equal before Max. But Ron probably didn’t expect Lewis to be as good as he was, nobody did…

    I think that if the obvious happens and there is a straight swap with Kovi then great for McLaren. If it doesn’t work out I think Ratboy is right and we’ll see McLaren again promote from within with Paffet. He’s reliable, he’s loyal, and Ron can always count on his manager (Martin Brundle) to remind him which way his bread is buttered. So if Alonso doesn’t go to Renault expect the musical chairs to stop with somebody famous without a seat.

  18. My candidate to add to this list would be Robert Kubica. I think he showed some real skill during the 2007 season and would have done much better had he a better car.

    I must say Sutil never showed me much of anything.

  19. But BMW will never let go of Kubica. I’m sure they will want him to spearhead a title run or three within the next 5 years.

    Sutil has shown flashes of brilliance, while having the occasional error… much like a certain Fernando Alonso in a Minardi back in 2001.

  20. My bet is on Sutil as i think it would be a stupid move for HK or NR to become Lewis’s no.2

  21. LH & Paffet? Great if we want to see McLaren failing again. They couldn’t get it with a two times champion and a AAA class rookie…

  22. I don’t mind Rosberg but Kovalainen is Finnish and mclaren have had finnish drivers in the past. Hakkinen, Keke Rosberg and of course Raikonen .And plus i want williams to be with the frontrunners again.

  23. for me i hope that Kovalainen gets the drive..i think it would be a good line up with those two….and of course their is also the finnish connection of course

  24. What about de la rosa. He could be a clear #2, and he can develope the car, and help hamilton become world champion. May be this option is over, counting his poor showing last year, and the situation, with the e-mails,in 07.
    Any bmw driver, either heidfeld, or kubica, could be another option, and leave a seat for alonso over there.
    Kovalainen, only if alonso goes to renault, and this is not clear at the moment.

  25. I have revised my Paffet reasoning – One should never forget the “It’s Never Two Brits” rule.

  26. My pick would be either Rosberg or Kovaleinen – both have so much potential.

    Jose – I personally wouldn’t have De La Rosa. After the Spygate debacle, he’s probably lucky to still be part of the team at all, let alone be a possible for a race seat. I also can’t see him being a back- up for Hamilton as he’s stated recently that he’s sure he could have done as good a job as him if he’d had the same equipment.

  27. Rosberg has a contract with Williams so McLaren will need to spend $$$ in order to sign him (and they have to pay a huge fine too).

    Besides, I can’t see another “star” for the second McLaren seat. They tried it in 2007 and it failed.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they get Ralf or De la Rosa.

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