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Formula One Fantasy - Lotus's Heikki Kovalainen 19 Oct 2011

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus T128.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 21 May 2011 (L to R): Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari with Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Renault on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 16 September 2007 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus T128 and Jarno Trulli (ITA) Team Lotus T128. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 9 October 2011 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus T128. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 28 August 2011 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 28 August 2011 Michael Schumacher(GER) Ferrari F1 2001, Mika Hakkinen(FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4-16, David Coulthard(GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-16 United States Grand Prix, Indianapolis 30 September 2001. World ©  Bearne/Sutton (L to R): Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari with Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Sunday, 24 July 2011 Mike Gascoyne (GBR) Team Lotus Racing Chief Technical Officer, Tony Fernandes (MAL) Team Lotus GP Team Principal and Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 10 Jul Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 8 October 2011 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus T128.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 20 May 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 I’m from Finland. I just think it’s 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. I’d make sure the music is proper metal, including Nightwish. It might not be normal party music, but at least I’d 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?
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 wouldn’t 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?
V10 engines - I’m not that fussed about other innovations, but the sound of V10s at full blast was mega so I’d like to see them back.

Q: What innovations would you like to see in the future?
I don’t think we need to change anything really from what we’ve got now. As a driver what you always want is more power and more grip. You don’t really care where it comes from, but you just want to go harder and faster so give me something that gives me that and I’m 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?
I’d take Suzuka. It’s 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. That’s 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?
I’m with the only name I’d ever have liked to race for! Honestly though, it’s not about the name of the team, it’s 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?
I can’t just pick three corners - but I’d say the Suzuka Esses, Becketts at Silverstone and probably Eau Rouge (at Spa). Eau Rouge isn’t 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?
I generally prefer modern things in life so probably right now. It’s not about safety, glamour or whatever, but it’s about the fact the cars now are so fast and require so much commitment to get the best out of them. They’re 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?
There’s nothing I’d like to change really. The rules suit the era we’re in so I think they’re 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?
Mika Hakkinen and Ayrton Senna again. I know they overlapped but they didn’t 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)?
I’d take Fernando Alonso.

Q: Just 19 of the world’s motor racing circuits feature on the current F1 calendar. You can add one more. Which circuit do you pick and why?
Hahaha! Ahvenisto in Finland, or Kemora, also in Finland. I’ll 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. I’m 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 you’d 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?
Kimi, for sure. It’s not a party without Kimi. If you have Kimi you’d also have to have Eddie Irvine. And Tony Fernandes, for sure. Those three would be a party on their own - they don’t 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?
The Red Bull 2011 car. (laughs)

Q: Rooftop swimming pool, bowling alley, revolving sushi bar – just some of the features most F1 motorhomes don’t possess. If you could add one thing to your team’s motorhome, what would it be?
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?
I’d 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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