A pure-bred product of the RDD, Finn Heikki Kovalainen will get behind the wheel of the R23B at Barcelona, alongside Franck Montagny and Jose-Maria Lopez, from December 2-4. He talked about this exciting prospect.
Q: How did your 2003 season go?
Q: Has the Renault Driver Development programme helped your career?
HK: Without a shadow of a doubt. The RDD gave me the opportunity to get into British F3 last year, then into the World Series by Nissan, and now I have the chance to test an F1 car. Furthermore, it has helped me improve my fitness with regular access to the team's Human Performance centre, and raise the level of my all-round performance in lots of areas.
Q: What are you feeling just a few weeks ahead of your first test at the wheel of an F1 car?
HK: I'm happy, it's as simple as that! However, there is still one more race in the Nissan championship before I can concentrate fully on the test. I want to round off the season with a win, and then focus on driving the Renault.
Q: What would be the ideal scenario for the next steps in your career?
HK: I think I am capable of doing a good job in an F1 car, but if there are no opportunities for 2004, then I would like to stay in the Nissan championship and win it next year. Of course, the RDD will decide on what the next steps are, and I am fully confident they know what's best for me.
Q: What kind of a driver would you describe yourself as?
HK: In terms of pure speed, I think I am at the right level. I have improved my fitness, and my consistency in race conditions was good this season. The weak point was qualifying: on a number of occasions, I couldn't get the car set-up correctly for a single flying lap. However, I know I didn't achieve my maximum, and I still have lots to learn. It's all a matter of patience. and hard work!