IMG Worldwide, the global sports, fashion and media company, has signed an exclusive agreement with F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen to manage and represent his commercial interests.
Kovalainen, 30, from Finland, is entering his third season racing for Caterham F1 Team, formerly Team Lotus, having previously raced for McLaren and Renault.
IMG will provide full client management services, including contractual negotiation, partnerships, legal services, PR and marketing expertise. He will be looked after and accompanied at F1 races by Martin Anayi, who also manages the interests of former three time F1 champion Sir Jackie Stewart.
The move strengthens IMG’s top level driver management stable where Kovalainen also joins Danica Patrick, the only woman to win in the IndyCar Series, and who now competes in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in the US.
Martin Anayi, a senior executive in IMG Motorsport, said, “We are delighted to have been appointed to represent Heikki. He is a very talented and marketable driver who has competed at the top level since 2007. We are looking forward to assisting and supporting him to achieve further success both on and off the track.”
Kovalainen said, “I'm excited about working with IMG, they have impressed me with their commitment and understanding of the industry and will look after all of my commercial partnerships moving forward. With the team we have assembled, it will allow me to concentrate on my driving and put even more time into working with the engineers and dedicate myself completely to leading the team to win its first point in F1.”
Kovalainen was supported by the Renault Driver Development program 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 F1 test driver for 2006 and then promoted him to race for them the following year.
He gained his first podium by finishing second in the Japanese Grand Prix in 2007. He then moved to McLaren for two seasons during which he claimed his first victory at the Hungaroring. In 2010 he moved to Lotus Racing, the team who competed under the Team Lotus name in 2011 and are now Caterham F1 Team for 2012 and beyond, where he has worked his way to become a respected leader for the team.
Robert Armstrong, Senior Vice President Global Head of Motorsports for IMG, said, “We are proud of our long history in talent management and our legacy in elite motorsport. We believe that signing Heikki shows our commitment to strengthening our IMG Motorsport management business. We welcome Heikki to the IMG family and look forward to a long and successful partnership.”