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Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Johannes Kovalainen[1]  (born October 19, 1981 in Suomussalmi, Finland) is a Finnish  Formula One racing driver who spent the 2008 and 2009 seasons with British based team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and drives for the new Lotus Racing team for the 2010 campaign.

He was supported by the Renault Driver Development programme early in his racing career, during which he won the World Series by Nissan championship and finished runner-up in the GP2 series. Renault signed him on as a full-time Formula One test driver for 2006, and then promoted him to a race seat for 2007. He gained his first podium by finishing second in the Japanese Grand Prix.

He moved to McLaren for the 2008 season, where he partnered Lewis Hamilton. His second season saw him achieve his first pole position at Silverstone and his first victory at Hungaroring, becoming the 100th driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix. He remained with the team for the 2009 season. He has since been replaced by reigning world champion Jenson Button for the 2010 season, who moves from Brawn GP (now Mercedes GP).

Kovalainen's career began in kart racing, much like that of many other Formula One drivers. He competed in karting from 1991 to 2000, during which time he finished runner-up in the Finnish Formula A championship in 1999 and 2000. In 2000 he won the Nordic championship and the Paris-Bercy Elf Masters event, as well as finished third in the World Formula Super A Championship, leading him to be elected as the Finnish Kart Driver of the Year.

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