Kovalainen adds XE to his rallying programs

The former F1 driver has fully switched to off-road, joining JBXE in Extreme E


Former Formula 1 driver Heikki Kovalainen has added another off-road challenge to his program as he joins Jenson Button’s Extreme E team for 2023.

Kovalainen, a one-time Grand Prix winner with McLaren, has made the switch to rallying in recent years – winning last year’s Japanese Rally Championship in a Škoda Fabia R5 and claiming points on his World Rally Championship debut in Japan too.

This year he’s committed to a full-time program in his native Finland but will still drive in Japan – including at this weekend’s Shinshiro Rally.

But Kovalainen’s 2023 schedule has become even busier now that he’ll race for JBXE alongside the retained Hedda Hosås.

“I’m really excited to join JBXE in the Extreme E series in Saudi Arabia,” Kovalainen said. “It’s a great championship with great teams and drivers so I’m looking forward to competing with them.

“It’ll be something new again in my career. After my Formula 1 stint I’ve done GTs as well as some rallying and I’m always looking for new challenges and looking forward to giving this a try. “It’ll be a steep learning curve no doubt but I’m up for it and hopefully we’ll get up to speed quickly.

Team owner Button said Kovalainen’s recent rallying experience made it a “no-brainer for the team to approach him”.

Button added: “I’m over the moon he’s agreed to join the team and equally delighted to be keeping Hedda after she has continued to make great progress in the car, she fully deserves her place.”

Words:Luke Barry