Heikki Kovalainen has so impressed his employers with his first qualifiers in the Lotus E21 race car that they are already considering offering him a race seat for next season.
The Finn will replace compatriot Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus in the last two races of this season, who successfully underwent back surgery on Thursday and is moving to Ferrari in the future.
Kovalainen, a former racer of Renault, McLaren and Caterham, has not raced since 2012, and has since competed in a few free practice sessions this year.
With eighth place in the U.S. Grand Prix qualifiers in a race car he had never ridden before, he impressed team boss Eric Boullier. “He can become one of the candidates,” Boullier said. “It’s true that we didn’t think about his services at first, but now he’s doing so well that we changed our minds. Everything is possible."
Nevertheless, there is a belief that either Nico Hulkenberg or Pastor Maldonado will get a regular racing seat for next season, and it all depends on the sale of a 35% stake in the team to Quantum. Kovalainen is expected to be offered another chance in the Caterham race car next season.
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