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Finnish training camp to test Hamilton & Kovalainen 02 Dec 2008

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren before the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 2 November 2008 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren MP4/23 .
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 7 September 2008 Post qualifying parc ferme (L to R): Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren, second; Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, pole position.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 2 August 2008

While McLaren’s engineers are busy preparing the team’s machinery for December’s two remaining test sessions, drivers Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen are preparing for a test of a very different kind; a five-day pre-season training camp at the Kuortane Sports Institute in western Finland.

Kourtane, McLaren’s human performance partner, has helped train some of the world’s top athletes, including Finland’s Olympic hopefuls, for more than 40 years. The training camp also acts as a useful team-building exercise, with mechanics and engineers joining the drivers for group exercises and tests at the campus.

"Travelling to Finland for our winter training camp is one of the best weeks of the year for me; it feels like you’re miles from anywhere and totally cut off from the outside world,” says Hamilton. “It allows me to focus solely on my training, which is great.

"It’s certainly not an easy week: Finland in the winter is cold and icy and we’re pushed hard for day after day. We spend the first part of the week doing tests to monitor our core strength and flexibility and spend the rest of the time building on specific exercises that will help us once we’re back in the car.”

Team mate Kovalainen agrees that the camp is no walk in the park, even for athletes of his and Hamilton’s supreme fitness levels, although there is one extra and fairly obvious attraction for the Finn.

“It’s a hard schedule; up early, and training all day - often outside in the cold - but it’s always fun,” he says. “Of course, it helps that it’s in my home country of Finland, which makes it especially relaxing and rewarding for me.

“It’s vital to start the year with very good core fitness because it’s difficult to train as much as you’d like during the season. That means the basic fitness level you reach over the winter is what keeps you going for much of the year. That’s why our training camp in Seinajoki is so important.”

Kovalainen arguably needs to be at peak fitness sooner than Hamilton - while the world champion is not scheduled to get back behind the wheel until the New Year, Kovalainen is due to test at both Jerez and Portugal’s new Algarve Motor Park later this month.