F1 News: The old Spa bet between McLaren team-mates that proved Hamilton's class

Heikki Kovalainen says a bet Lewis Hamilton won in 2009, in which he was the first to go flat through Eau Rouge out of the pits, proved his class

F1 News: The old Spa bet between McLaren team-mates that proved Hamilton's class

Reflecting on his time as Hamilton's team-mate at McLaren in 2008 and 2009, Kovalainen says that he found himself always having to "stretch" to try to match the British driver.

And he says there is no better example of Hamilton's belief in his own abilities than a wager he made with Kovalainen ahead of the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.

Speaking in the latest Beyond the Grid official F1 podcast, Kovalainen said: "We were at Spa, and the first practice was just about to start, and I think Lewis came to me and said: 'Would you like to do a bet, just on the out lap, that who goes faster through Eau Rouge straight out of the box?'

"In those days it wasn't like easy flat out straight out of the box on Friday morning.

"And I said, 'Yeah, yeah, we'll do that'. Then he just went with the right leg straight and went flat out the first lap.

"I had a tiny lift and I lost the bet. But that was the kind of thing that he was... I kind of knew [that would be] lost money for me.

"I was never gonna win that. So yeah... he's got unbelievable fighting spirit."

Kovalainen felt Hamilton was just a bit faster than him in their time together, but reckoned if he pushed himself he could get close.

In the end, he suspected the constant need to go beyond his comfort level burned him out.

"He was just that tiny bit faster all the time, and I had to stretch, every session," he said.

"It was straight from the winter test, you know, I was always like... I had to stretch to match him or be ahead of him, like an average lap wasn't good enough.

"And when you've done that for a year and a half... I kind of run out of energy.

"In the second half of the second year, 2009 in McLaren, it's fair to say that I drove below my own ability even.

"Rather than focusing on my own race and my own results, and trying to get close to Lewis, I started to overdrive.

"I got frustrated and, in fact, the gap just got bigger and I made some mistakes.

"I think the reason why that happened during that second half of 2009 was because I had to stretch all the time.

"And when you're stretching for too long time, you run into a wall at some point."

He added: "I think it's just his pace was just a tiny bit quicker consistently. I don't have any trouble admitting it. He is one of the greatest, if not the greatest driver. I'm glad I went against him.

"But at that point of my career, it was also quite detrimental for my career. I had a momentum, but I wasn't able to keep the momentum going with Lewis as my team-mate."

shares
comments
F1 News: Williams says senior staff restructuring now complete

Previous article

F1 News: Williams says senior staff restructuring now complete

Next article

F1 News: Hamilton's stand against racism positive for Mercedes and series - Wolff

F1 News: Hamilton's stand against racism positive for Mercedes and series - Wolff
Load comments
What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat Plus

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat

OPINION: Max Verstappen is back in the lead of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship, with the season’s final flyaway events set to get underway in the USA this weekend. But a defensive stance he’s recently adopted could have a lasting impact for the Red Bull driver when it comes to his chances of defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest Plus

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest

Despite appearing to adjust to life as a Ferrari driver with relative ease, it was far from straightforward under the surface for Carlos Sainz Jr. But, having made breakthroughs in rather different routes at the Russian and Turkish races, he’s now targeting even greater feats for the rest of the Formula 1 season

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Plus

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Autosport's technical consultant

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021
Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Plus

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding 
into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? STUART CODLING talks to the man in charge

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Plus

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Plus

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers Plus

Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021