Vitaly Petrov to become Russia’s first F1 driver with Renault in 2010

Vitaly Petrov will become Russia's first F1 driver

Vitaly Petrov will become Russia's first F1 driver

Vitaly Petrov will race for Renault in 2010 and becomes Russia’s first ever F1 driver.

The 25 year-old, who has spent the last three-and-a-half seasons racing in GP2, was announced as the team mate for Robert Kubica by Renault at the launch of their R30 today.

The team also confirmed Jerome D’Ambrosio and Ho-Pin Tung will be its test drivers. The pair are both run by the Gravity management company owned by Gerard Lopez, who bought control of the Renault team over the winter.

Russia’s first F1 driver

Russia is not known for having a thriving national racing scene and Petrov won several races in low-level competitions – including the 2002 Lada Cup.

He pursued his racing career by competing in Formula Renault championships in Europe before moving up to the Euroseries 3000 in 2006. He placed third overall, with one win.

That year he also moved up to GP2, spending the second half of the season with DPR. He joined Campos the following year and remained with them for three seasons, which is unusual for a driver in F1’s feeder series.

Experience has served him well and he achieved better results with each passing season – 13th overall in 2007, seventh in 2008 and second last year.

It’s quite appropriate that Petrov’s F1 drive should be announced at Valencia because both its racing tracks have been kind to him in recent years. He scored his first GP2 win at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in 2007, and won on the street track in 2008 and 2009.

If he’s failed to capture the imagination of those looking for a future F1 star it’s perhaps because he’s not rocketed through the championship the way Lewis Hamilton and last year’s champion Nico H???lkenberg did – though they both benefitted from being born in countries with a much stronger racing heritage than Russia has.

Petrov will be the first Russian to race in F1. However the country has already had an F1 team, in the form of Midland Group, which took over Jordan in 2005 and ran it as Midland F1 in 2006 before selling it to Dutch car manufacturer Spyker.

Vitaly Petrov in GP2 – pictures

Read more: 2010 F1 drivers and teams

Images (C) GP2 Seriez/Alastair Staley, Glenn Dunbar, Charles Coates and Andrew Ferraro.

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45 comments on Vitaly Petrov to become Russia’s first F1 driver with Renault in 2010

  1. Randy said on 1st February 2010, 6:37

    Beginning of the end for Renault or Genii or whatever. No longer a contender. Poor Kubica, poor Heidfeld, poor F1 fans. With half the cockpits being filled by 19 yr olds with rich daddies F1 ceases to be the top flight of motorsport. Would have been better off going with 3 cars per team like Luca said.

    • Prisoner Monkeys said on 1st February 2010, 7:43

      According to Lopez, some drivers were offering twice as much as Petrov. And of all the team, Renault haev the most incentive to not lie given what happened last year.

  2. Good luck to him and lets hope he is better out of the box than some of the more recent drivers to join F1…

  3. The Limit said on 1st February 2010, 17:03

    I have to admit, I know very little about Petrov. Its a brave decision for Renault to make, especially if the team are under the internal financial pressure rumours would have us believe. If I am not mistaken, Bernie Ecclestone has been suggesting that there maybe a Russian round of the F1 championship in unpcoming years, but I doubt this had much bearing on Renault’s decision. Its sad for Grosjean, who was really drowned by the expectation laid upon his shoulders, and for Nick Heidfeld, who surely now must be doubting his future in F1.

    • Prisoner Monkeys said on 1st February 2010, 22:23

      He’s been working on the concept of a Russian Grand Prix for nearly thirty years now. He first floated the idea of a Grand Prix of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics back in 1982; it was going to be a street circuit in Moscow, the Monaco of communism. It was a very simple design and quite fast, but some of the corners looked very demanding. But it never worked out. Bernie still wanted a race in Eastern Europe, and that’s how we got the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Russians tried again with Nagatino Island in 1998, but that fell through. Still, there are plans for circuits at Domodedovo, Pulkovkoe, Chekrizovo and the Moscow Raceway, so it could become a reality soon.

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