Heikki Kovalainen not leaving Team Lotus any time soon, says Tony Fernandes

Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes has issued a hands-off warning to rival teams about trying to lure driver Heikki Kovalainen away from next season

Heikki Kovalainen not leaving Team Lotus any time soon, says Tony Fernandes

Kovalainen's strong form throughout this campaign has left some rival outfits interested in him for 2012 - even though he has a contract for what will then become known as the Caterham team.

But although it is understood that Kovalainen has exit clauses in his contract that would leave the way open for him to switch outfits if he and his bosses agreed, Fernandes made it clear on Sunday that he will not let the Finn go.

"I'll hold on to him whatever," said Fernandes, when asked by AUTOSPORT about the interest rival teams, believed to include Renault, are having in Kovalainen.

"I think we should take some credit for Heikki, and I think Heikki will say that first of all. He's happy here, he's driving better than he ever has...

"When Neil Warnock [manager of the QPR football team owned by Fernandes] came down - and he's a man of many words - he said this is one of the happiest teams he's seen. So environment is important.

"I think Heikki's flourished here because he's happy and in a different kind of pressure environment from maybe where he used to before. So we'll hold on to him.

"We've worked hard at it and given him a lot of love and attention. And I think he would like to see how he performs in a better car next year. So he's with us and we'll fight to hold on to him."

Fernandes also said that there were currently no plans to replace Jarno Trulli - although he drew short of stating whether the situation could change over the winter.

"Right now we have a contract and he will race," explained Fernandes.

"There is no change in our driver line-up. We have reported to the FIA both those drivers, so let's see."

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Series Formula 1
Teams Team Lotus , Lotus F1 Team
Author Jonathan Noble
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