After Kimi Raikkonen announced on Sunday that he would not race for the final two rounds of the season due to his decision to have back surgery, it was widely believed that Lotus would promote reserve driver Davide Valsecchi to take his place.
However, Finn Mika Salo believes that perhaps this is not the best decision for the team, and they would be better off with Heikki Kovalainen.
Currently Lotus are in a close battle with Mercedes and Ferrari for second place in the constructors’ championship, a battle where every point is crucial.
Given the Lotus team’s financial situation, Salo argues that it would be better for them to have a driver who is not a rookie and would give the team the best chance to score points.
“I have thought about this for a while and I think getting Heikki would be a smart idea,” Salo declared to Finnish broadcaster MTV3.
“Valsecchi will hardly be able to do anything on a completely new track to him, but Heikki has raced in Austin.”
“That’s nothing against Valsecchi, but simply about Lotus needing to score points.”
Kovalainen should be an attractive choice for the team. He has had several practice outings for the Caterham team this year, has previously raced at the Austin circuit and has had the experience of driving for a front running team, including a race win under his belt.
The ideal scenario would be for Lotus to be able to assess drivers who could potentially replace Kimi next year. Team owner Gerard Lopez has told German newspaper Die Welt that there are four drivers in the running for the second seat. '
Sauber driver Nico Hulkenberg is one candidate currently in contention, and could potentially drop his contract and drive the final two races for Lotus due to the team paying him late earlier this year.
Another potential candidate, Pastor Maldonado, could also in theory drive the final two races for Lotus, after the announcement yesterday that Brazilian Felipe Massa will be replacing him at Williams next year. However, it is almost certain that no team swapping will take place and Lotus will just take on a “free” driver.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU