Caterham have confirmed that Heikki Kovalainen is to rejoin as a reserve driver
Finn to take part in practice sessions in Bahrain and Spain
By Mike Wise in Manama. Last Updated: April 17, 2013 11:04am
Caterham have confirmed that Heikki Kovalainen is to rejoin the team as a reserve driver and will run in practice at the Bahrain and Spanish Grands Prix.
The team admitted that the Finn's F1 experience was behind the move, one which sees Kovalainen back in a cockpit he only vacated at the end of last season.
In a statement, Caterham said he is "helping support the introduction of the first performance updates to the 2013 car".
"It's obviously great news that I'll be on track in Bahrain and Spain and I'm really looking forward to getting back to work and helping the team as much as I can," Kovalainen said.
"I'll be taking part in the two FP1 sessions in Bahrain and Barcelona to give the team my input on the new parts we're bringing to those races, and I'll be working closely with the race drivers and the engineers on track and back at Leafield to help everyone get the most out of the new package."
Kovalainen added on Twitter: "Just arrived in Bahrain, good to get to drive again! Looking forward to working with the Caterham boys and girls again!
"I visited the Caterham factory last Sunday, they've made big steps forward there and I had a run in their new sim which was also very good."
Kovalainen, who won the 2008 Hungarian GP for McLaren before joining Tony Fernandes' team, had raced for Caterham for three years.
The 31-year-old joined the start-up outfit ahead of the 2010 season but by last year it was growing increasingly clear that he was frustrated by their lack of progress.
Money was also a factor, with Caterham electing to sign rookies Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde - who both bring funding - for the current season, which has seen them slip behind rivals Marussia during the early races.
However, Kovalainen never severed his links with the team and will now perform what they described as "a formal technical development role" in support of Pic and Van der Garde.
"We are delighted to welcome him back into the team," said Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul. "He has six years of F1 experience behind him so he is perfectly placed to provide us objective feedback on the various types of configurations we will run and to give us an objective view of the 2013 tyres against his experience with the 2012 compounds.
"Having invested in Heikki for our first three years of competition it would be a waste not to leverage the valuable expertise he brings."
The move comes as part of what Caterham said is a "restructuring" of their driver line-up.
Kovalainen joins Alexander Rossi as one of two reserves, the American youngster also replacing China's Ma Qing Hua in their GP2 line-up.
Ma took part in P1 at his home race in Shanghai last weekend and had initially been nominated as a reserve alongside Rossi.
The team added that Ma "remains a core member of Caterham F1 Team's driver roster and an announcement about his revised race plans in 2013 will be made in due course".
SKY SPORTS F1's BAHRAIN SCHEDULE
Wednesday April 17
8:00pm - Classic Races - 2008 Bahrain GP.
10:15pm - Classic Races - 2009 Bahrain GP.
Thursday April 18
1pm - Drivers' Press Conference - Live!
6:15pm - Gear up for Bahrain.
8:00pm - Classic Races - 2010 Bahrain GP.
10:15pm - 2012 Bahrain GP (Highlights).
Friday April 19
7:45am - Bahrain GP Practice One - Live!
9:55am - GP2 Practice - Live!
11:45am - Bahrain GP Practice Two - Live!
1:55pm - GP2 Qualifying - Live!
3pm - Team Principals' Press Conference
4pm - The F1 Show - Live!
11:10pm - Classic Races - 2006 Bahrain GP.
Saturday April 20
8:45am - Bahrain GP Practice Three - Live!
11am - Bahrain GP Qualifying - Live!
1:40pm - GP2 Feature Race - Live!
3:05pm - Classic Races - 2007 Bahrain GP.
5:20pm - Bahrain GP Qualifying Replay.
8pm - Ted's Qualifying Notebook.
Sunday April 21
6:30am - Classic Races - 2009 Bahrain GP.
8:45am - GP2 Sprint Race - Live!
11:30am - The 2013 Bahrain GP - Live!
5:55pm - GP2 Sprint Race Replay.
7pm - Bahrain GP Highlights.
8:30pm - Ted's Race Notebook.
8:45pm - Classic Races - 2010 Bahrain GP.