Mar.24 (GMM) Heikki Kovalainen is the 'surprise of the year' in formula one so far, Ferrari test driver Marc Gene said at Sepang.
The Finn's highly rated McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton dropped out of podium contention with a bad pit stop in Malaysia, but it remains the case that the championship leader was marginally outpaced all weekend by the occupant of the sister MP4-23."I must say something about Heikki Kovalainen," Gene, in Malaysia as Ferrari's reserve driver, wrote in his post-race column for the newspaper El Mundo."He is definitely the surprise of the year. Here, he was surpassed only by Ferrari and his (qualifying) sanction, and in his second race as Hamilton's teammate, that is to his credit," the Spaniard added.Former triple world champion Niki Lauda also singled out Kovalainen for praise."He has not too much experience of the team, yet was faster than Lewis the whole weekend," the great Austrian told motorline."Without doubt he was the right choice for McLaren because so far he is doing a perfect job," Lauda added.26-year-old Kovalainen, however, was not overly happy with his lowest rung of the podium in Malaysia; ahead of Hamilton, but beaten by Robert Kubica's BMW, and world champion Kimi Raikkonen."It was a pretty good day but I would have liked to have been a couple of positions higher," he said on Sunday."I think the work I have done since last year is paying out, so we will carry on and eventually arrive in the higher position," Kovalainen added.