Briatore blocked Kovalainen debut in 2004, 2005 – report

Mon, 1 November 2010, 10:01

Nov.1 (GMM) Flavio Briatore twice blocked Heikki Kovalainen’s formula one race debut, according to a Finnish report.

The Turun Sanomat newspaper said the 29-year-old, who in 2010 is contesting his fourth season with a third separate team, could have made his debut in 2004.

Actually, Kovalainen debuted in 2007 with Renault, then run by his former manager Briatore.

But he tested with Minardi as far back as late 2003 and was almost signed for the following season by the Faenza based team’s boss Paul Stoddart.

At the same test was Jose Maria Lopez, Kovalainen recalls.

“I was clearly faster than him,” he said. “Paul Stoddart would have offered the seat to me, I was ready, but my management had a different view.”

According to the report, another opportunity for Kovalainen came ahead of the 2005 season, when he met with Williams’ Sir Frank Williams, Patrick Head and Sam Michael at Grove.

But Briatore reportedly called off the talks when he decided that Kovalainen should contest a season of GP2 before becoming Renault’s full-time test driver in 2006.

“Of course, each time when you have a chance to go into F1 and you don’t, you are disappointed,” Kovalainen confirmed.

He split with Briatore after last year’s crashgate scandal, and negotiated his own move from McLaren to Lotus for 2010.

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