McLaren picks up Kovalainen's option

McLaren Mercedes announced Thursday in Hungary they have picked up the option on Heikki Kovalainen's driving contract with the England-based Formula One team. The Finn, who signed a one-year deal with a one-year option, will stay with the team ...

McLaren Mercedes announced Thursday in Hungary they have picked up the option on Heikki Kovalainen's driving contract with the England-based Formula One team. The Finn, who signed a one-year deal with a one-year option, will stay with the team through 2009.

He has reached one podium place, third in Malaysia, and secured one pole position, at Britain, this year in scoring 28 points in the FIA World Drivers' Championship. Teammate Lewis Hamilton, an Englishman, has scored 58 points in winning four races and securing three pole positions.

Kovalainen's mixed results, including a spectacular crash in Spain that put him in hospital overnight, had made him the target of speculation about his future with McLaren.

"I would be happy to finish my career at this team, to be honest," Kovalainen said after his contract news was announced.

Kovalainen, 26, made his F1 debut last year with Renault as partner to Italian veteran Giancarlo Fisichella, now at Force India. Kovalainen joined McLaren after a three-year deal with double world champion Fernando Alonso fell through. Alonso returned to Renault, where he won back-to-back world titles, for '08 after one year in Woking.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Fernando Alonso , Lewis Hamilton , Heikki Kovalainen
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Force India