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Kovalainen gets third Renault seat 02 Dec 2005

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Arden International GP2 Series, Rd24, Sakir, Bahrain, Friday 30 September 2005. World ©  Thorne/Sutton

Heikki Kovalainen, runner-up in the 2005 GP2 Series, will be Renault’s third and test driver for the 2006 season, it was announced on Friday. The Finn has already tested successfully for the team during 2005, and this new role, replacing Franck Montagny, takes him a step closer to a Formula One race drive.

"I am delighted to have been offered this opportunity by Renault,” said Kovalainen. “I have already done some testing for the team, but I still have a lot to learn. This role will allow me to understand more about the team and how Formula One works while developing my driving and technical skills at this level. It is a privilege to be invited to join a championship-winning team, and I am determined to help Renault retain its world titles."

The Renault team’s Managing Director, Flavio Briatore, commented: "We are delighted to welcome Heikki to the team as our third driver for 2006. He has demonstrated that he is a talented, aggressive driver in the GP2 Series, and he has impressed our engineers during his tests with the team. The test driver's role will be crucial during 2006 as we develop our V8 engine through the season to defend the world championship. I am confident Heikki will make a valuable contribution to our success.”

Montagny will continue testing for Renault until the end of 2005, and Briatore paid tribute to his dedication and contribution to the team during his time as test driver. “His work played an important part in our championship victory, and we wish him well for the future," added the Renault boss.