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Ask the Expert - McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen 24 Jun 2009

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 20 June 2009 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren MP4/24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 24 April 2009 (L to R): Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren with Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 5 April 2009 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren MP4/24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Practice Day, Silverstone, England, Friday, 19 June 2009 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Who wrote the song ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’? When did team principal Martin Whitmarsh join McLaren? How many motorcycle world championships has Valentino Rossi won? And when did Finland's national ice hockey team, Leijonat, win a gold medal? These are just some of the questions we thought McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen would take in his stride after he agreed to be the latest participant in our personal trivia test, ‘Ask the Expert’...

Q: You are from Finnish town of Suomussalmi. Can you name two other famous names from Suomussalmi?
Heikki Kovalainen:
Ilmari Kianto, he’s an author and is quite famous, and a former president from Finland - Stahlberg - is originally from Suomussalmi.
Correct - he could have also said composer Osmo Tapio Raihala or NHL player Janne Pesonen.

Q: One of your favourite Finnish groups is Nightwish. But who wrote their platinum-selling record ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’?
Sorry, I don’t know who originally wrote it.
Incorrect - it was Gary Moore.

Q: Aside from his 2008 drivers’ title, your team mate Lewis Hamilton has taken three other championships in his career. Which series did he win?
He won Formula Renault in 2003, then he won F3 (Euro) in 2005 and GP2 in 2006.

Q: In 2004 you won the World Series by Nissan title. Two F1 drivers, one current and one former, preceded and succeeded you as champion. Who were they?
Franck Montagny won in 2003 and I finished second, and in 2005 it was Kubica.

Q: At the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix you took your first Formula One victory. Which driver scored a maiden F1 podium that day?
It has to be Timo Glock.
Correct - Glock was second for Toyota.

Q: You have a new team principal this year, Martin Whitmarsh. In what year did Whitmarsh join McLaren?
Let me think a little bit. Must be something around 20 years ago - more or less.
Correct - a good guess, it was 1989.

Q: Apart from yourself, seven Finnish drivers have tackled Formula One racing, and only five have scored points. Who were those lucky few?
Kimi, Hakkinen, Salo, Rosberg and JJ Lehto.
Correct - Mika Hakkinen (420 points), JJ Lehto (10), Kimi Raikkonen (540), Keke Rosberg (159.5) and Mika Salo (33).

Q: You narrowly lost out to Williams’ Nico Rosberg for the 2005 GP2 series. Which former Formula One driver finished a distant third?
Who was third? Let me think. A former F1 driver? Let me think! Speed?
Correct - it was indeed former Toro Rosso driver Scott Speed.

Q: McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa has been with the team since 2003. Which singer does De la Rosa prefer above all others?
I have no idea!
Incorrect - it’s ‘The Boss’, Bruce Springsteen.

Q: Bruce McLaren scored his team’s first victory in 1968. Which manufacturer supplied the engine that took him across the finish line?
Who was in F1 for long? A Ford? But that was only a guess not knowledge!
It must be the Finn’s lucky day - another correct guess!

Q: As a fan of ice hockey and coming from Finland, you are no doubt a fan of Finland's national ice hockey team, Leijonat. In what year did the lions win a gold medal at the world championships?

Q: You are a fan of Valentino Rossi. How many motorcycle world championships has he clinched?
Eight! He was in the papers recently that’s why I know!

Q: You like watching James Bond films in your spare time. Which British secret service agency does 007 work for?
Correct - he is an officer of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), more commonly known as MI6.

Q: We’ve already seen you’re a big fan of music, but do you know which Finnish musician you share a birthday with?
No idea! Who? Sorvali? Have never heard of him.
Incorrect - Henri Sorvali, guitarist and keyboard player with folk metal band Moonsorrow, was born on October 19, 1978.

Q: At your first outing at the Formula Three Macau Grand Prix in 2001 you enjoyed a pretty strong showing, finishing eighth. Can you remember which former Formula One driver took victory?
Takuma Sato.

Q: You famously beat Michael Schumacher to the Race of Champions title in 2004. You lost out on the Nations Cup that day with Finnish partner Marcus Gronholm. How many world rally titles has Gronholm won in his career?
He is a two time world champion. He won in 2000 and 2002.

Q: Finland has produced more world rally champions than any other country - how many?
Vatanen is one, Salonen two, Kankkunen is three, Mikkola four, Makinen five, Gronholm six. I guess the correct number is seven but no name is coming to me right now.
Correct - and the missing name is (Markku) Alen

Q: One of your early F1 test drives was with the Minardi team in 2003 at Italy’s Vallelunga circuit. Which famous Italian sports car company, who briefly entered F1 in the early 1960s and 1970s, produced a car named the Vallelunga?
No idea.
Incorrect - De Tomaso.

Q: You list golf among your interests. Which Finnish golfer has achieved the highest world ranking?
I think it’s a bit of an older guy… Karjalainen.
Correct - Toni Karjalainen.

Q: Prior to joining McLaren, Renault were involved in virtually every stage of your single-seater motorsport career. Can you tell us how many Grands Prix Renault have won, to the nearest five?
Maybe about 30 or 40?
Correct - it’s 35.

Final score: 24 points from a possible 28
Ask the Expert rating: 86%

Current leader board:
1. Heikki Kovalainen - 86%
2. Mark Webber - 84%
3. Sebastien Buemi - 72%
4. Robert Kubica - 70%
5. Jenson Button - 69%
6. Giancarlo Fisichella - 68%
7. Nico Rosberg - 66%
8= Sebastian Vettel - 64%
8= Rubens Barrichello - 64%
10. Jarno Trulli - 58%
11. Nick Heidfeld - 57%

More drivers coming soon.