With Kimi Raikkonen announcing on Sunday he would miss the final two grands prix of this season in the United States and Brazil, it left Lotus desperately floundering for a replacement.
After apparently failing to lure Michael Schumacher out of retirement for a second time, or Nico Hulkenberg from Sauber, Lotus only turned to Kovalainen on Tuesday evening, securing his release from Caterham from whom he was axed last season, only to return as a reserve.
Following a rapid seat fit and swift negotiations over a short-term deal, Kovalainen only flew into Austin early Thursday afternoon, too late for even the main FIA press conference he was due to attend.
The 32-year-old Finn has had precious little time to prepare, but is convinced his many years experience will stand him in good stead.
"I wasn't planning to come to Austin at all because (Alexander) Rossi's driving the Caterham (in first practice), and he's the reserve driver this weekend," said Kovalainen.
"I had just got back from a run when I got the call on Tuesday evening. Everything happened very quickly and here we are.
"Within the time limits we've had, we've managed to do quite a lot. Whether it's enough, we'll find out.
"If I didn't think I could do it, I would not have accepted the offer. Only time will tell how things go.
"But I expect myself to perform well. I've been in Formula One long enough, even if I haven't driven much this year."
Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado are currently the key players in the frame to replace Raikkonen at Lotus next season given the Finn is returning to Ferrari.
For Kovalainen,he insists for this weekend in Austin and next weekend in Brazil he is not attempting to put himself in the shop window with the Enstone-based marque.
Instead, Kovalainen concedes his best option is to reclaim his seat with Caterham.
"For me the main thing is to get back to racing. I never wanted to leave Formula One," added Kovalainen.
"The main focus this weekend is not trying to show what I can do, but trying to deliver for the team. I'm here for them more than myself.
"At the moment I haven't spoken to Lotus about next year at all. The only team I've really spoken seriously to is Caterham.
"We're close to starting to agree terms, so I think that's still the most likely option for me.
"So I don't think this weekend or Brazil will have a huge influence on 2014. You never know in this paddock, but I don't feel any extra pressure because of that."