Formula One Fantasy - Lotuss Heikki Kovalainen 19 Oct 2011
Since making his Formula One debut back in 2007 with Renault, Heikki Kovalainen has driven for McLaren and Lotus and become a firm favourite in the paddock. As he celebrates his 30th on Wednesday, we gave Kovalainen a little birthday treat and asked him to name some of his F1 fantasies. Here he explains why driving a V10-engined car around Helsinki alongside fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen before kicking back in a sauna would top his wish list
Q: You must choose a city for a new Formula One street circuit - which city, anywhere in the world, do you choose, and why?
Heikki Kovalainen: Helsinki, definitely. And, before you say it, it has nothing to do with the fact that Im from Finland. I just think its a great city and an international city. It would make sure the race is amazing and the parties would be better than anywhere in the world. Id make sure the music is proper metal, including Nightwish. It might not be normal party music, but at least Id like it oh and it would have to be run in winter. With studded tyres.
Q: If you could choose one former world champion as your team mate, who would you choose and why?
HK: Kimi (Raikkonen). I suspect me and Kimi would have quite a lot of fun, on and off track. And we could talk to each other in Finnish and the engineers wouldnt know what we were saying. That could be really quite funny.
Q: Formula One innovations of the past - ground effect, active suspension, turbocharging, six wheels, the list goes on. If you could bring back one past innovation, what would it be and why?
HK: V10 engines - Im not that fussed about other innovations, but the sound of V10s at full blast was mega so Id like to see them back.
Q: What innovations would you like to see in the future?
HK: I dont think we need to change anything really from what weve got now. As a driver what you always want is more power and more grip. You dont really care where it comes from, but you just want to go harder and faster so give me something that gives me that and Im happy.
Q: You can only drive at one circuit for the rest of your life - which circuit, past or present from anywhere in the world, do you choose?
HK: Id take Suzuka. Its a proper circuit that tests drivers and cars. The first sector, from Turn One to Turn Seven, is my favourite sequence of corners in the whole season. You have to commit right at the start, go in and make sure you keep on the power or you lose time. Thats what a real circuit should be like - gradient changes, proper high-speed corners, deeply passionate and knowledgeable fans and a real race. I love it.
Q: Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Tyrrell, March are just some of the teams that have departed the sport. Which former team would you most liked to have raced with and why?
HK: Im with the only name Id ever have liked to race for! Honestly though, its not about the name of the team, its about how the team goes racing and I think we do it right.
Q: You have to design a new F1 circuit, combining all your favourite corners from other tracks around the world. Which three corners are top of your list and why?
HK: I cant just pick three corners - but Id say the Suzuka Esses, Becketts at Silverstone and probably Eau Rouge (at Spa). Eau Rouge isnt really the challenge it used to be, but Suzuka and Becketts are still hardcore, so definitely them.
Q: You can travel back in time and compete in any decade of Formula One racing, from the 1950s to the 1990s. Which decade would you choose and why?
HK: I generally prefer modern things in life so probably right now. Its not about safety, glamour or whatever, but its about the fact the cars now are so fast and require so much commitment to get the best out of them. Theyre still dangerous, even though the danger is managed better. They sound amazing and are just cool to drive.
Q: What current Formula One regulation would you most like to change and why?
HK: Theres nothing Id like to change really. The rules suit the era were in so I think theyre pretty much right.
Q: If you could pick two Formula One greats of the past (from different eras) to watch race against each other, who would you pick?
HK: Mika Hakkinen and Ayrton Senna again. I know they overlapped but they didnt go head-to-head at their peaks. I think Mika in his day would have been a match for Ayrton, but that would have been amazing to see.
Q: If you were a team boss, which current driver would you pick first for your team (excluding yourself and your current team mate)?
HK: Id take Fernando Alonso.
Q: Just 19 of the worlds motor racing circuits feature on the current F1 calendar. You can add one more. Which circuit do you pick and why?
HK: Hahaha! Ahvenisto in Finland, or Kemora, also in Finland. Ill let you work out why! If not those two then Oulton Park or the long circuit at Brands Hatch. Actually, it would be Oulton Park. That would be insane. Im not sure a modern F1 car around there is such a good idea though. It would be so dangerous, but that run up from Druids to Lodge, with the great big bump in the middle, would be beyond hardcore. If you fell off there youd be in trouble, but it would be worth watching.
Q: You are having a dinner party and can invite four people from the world of motorsport, past or present. Who do you invite?
HK: Kimi, for sure. Its not a party without Kimi. If you have Kimi youd also have to have Eddie Irvine. And Tony Fernandes, for sure. Those three would be a party on their own - they dont need anyone else. And the fourth? My girlfriend Catherine (Hyde).
Q: You are given the chance to drive any legendary Formula One car of the past (excluding those made by your own team). Which car would you choose?
HK: The Red Bull 2011 car. (laughs)
Q: Rooftop swimming pool, bowling alley, revolving sushi bar just some of the features most F1 motorhomes dont possess. If you could add one thing to your teams motorhome, what would it be?
HK: A sauna. Obviously. What else does a Finnish person want?
Q: Imagine you have just won the world title. Where would you go for your celebratory meal and what would choose from the menu?
HK: Id go to North Finland and have a proper party, in the middle of a forest in the winter. That would be how to celebrate.
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