Kovalainen replaces Raikkonen at Lotus for final GPs of 2013

Heikki Kovalainen will race for Lotus at the final two races of the season, replacing Kimi Raikkonen, with an official announcement expected to come from the Enstone-based squad on Thursday.

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Negotiations between Lotus and Caterham, who Kovalainen is currently employed by, are believed to have taken place throughout the day, before an agreement was made between the two teams to release the Finn to stand in for Kimi Raikkonen at the races in the United States and Brazil.

Kovalainen lost his race seat at Caterham at the end of 2012 and has not raced competitively this season, being limited to just a handful of free practice outings for the team, most recently at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

However, it is believed that Kovalainen’s wealth of prior Formula One experience made him the best prospect available for the Lotus team, which is currently engaged in a battle for second in the Constructors’ Championship with Mercedes and Ferrari, although the Enstone squad remain outside contenders, some 37 points adrift.

Kovalainen, who had a stint with the team in it’s previous guise as Renault in 2007, has already visited the Enstone factory in preparation for the final two Grand Prix and is expected to link up with Lotus in Austin on Thursday.

Nico Hulkenberg, Lotus’ main target to fill Raikkonen’s vacant seat full-time in 2014 was initially approached to fill the Finn’s seat for the final two races of the season, but instead opted to complete the final two races of the year with his current team Sauber.

Image courtesy of Caterham F1 Team

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