Heikki Kovalainen has vowed to help Renault to quickly forget about the departing double world champion Fernando Alonso.
The rookie Finn is McLaren-bound Alonso’s replacement for the 2007 season, and he is promising to be fully up to speed for his first race appearance in Melbourne next March.
“I will throw Alonso’s shoes out the cockpit quickly and replace them with my own,” 25-year-old Kovalainen told the German specialist publication Motorsport Aktuell.
He was Renault’s test driver this year, and has thus trodden the same route to a competitive race seat as did Spaniard Alonso, who is only three months older than Heikki.
“I know the car and team well,” Kovalainen continued, “so the biggest difference next year will probably be the attention of the media.”
He promised journalists, however, to expect a more cheerful and approachable interview than with notorious countrymen like Kimi Raikkonen and Mika Hakkinen.
“Perhaps it is because I come from a different area of Finland to them,” said Heikki, who was born in Suomussalmi, in the north.
“It is often said that Finns from the north are more expressive and open than some others.”