Petrov to remain at Renault in 2011 and 2012

2011 F1 season

Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 2010

Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 2010

Vitaly Petrov has extended his contract to race with Renault for another two seasons.

The Russian driver confirmed the deal in a press conference in Moscow today. He said:

I am very happy to continue with the team and proud to be representing Lotus Renault GP for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

I learned a lot about the sport, the circuits and the car this year. That will help me improve even more in the future. I am very excited about working with this great team once more, and I?m confident that I will deliver.

In many ways, 2010 was about learning. 2011 will be about performing. Today, I feel I am ready to rise to this challenge.
Vitaly Petrov

The news means Renault have both Robert Kubica and Petrov signed until the end of 2012.

Team chairman Gerard Lopez said:

We’re delighted to have Vitaly on board for another two years. Last season, he showed on several occasions that he clearly has the potential to deliver. It was just a matter of putting everything together during the same weekend, race after race, and this will be his target for 2011.

Also, thanks to Vitaly and the team, Russia is opening up to Formula 1. Over the past few months, we’ve established close links with this country and with some of its strongest companies. We’re looking forward to building on this special relationship and turning it into a very successful adventure over the next two seasons.
Gerard Lopez

Team principal Eric Boullier added:

We are very pleased to confirm that Vitaly will be staying with us for 2011 and 2012, in order that both he and the team can build on a promising 2010 campaign.

The entire team has been working flat out over the past months to improve our competitiveness, and a stable driver line-up is essential to achieving our targets. Robert Kubica provides a remarkable benchmark for both speed and consistency, and we are certain that Vitaly will move closer to this level of performance next year.
Eric Boullier

Renault issued the following Q&A with Petrov:

Vitaly, how does it feel to be confirmed at Lotus Renault GP?
It feels great. I learned so much this year and I know that I can come back stronger in 2011. I’m extremely proud to be part of this team and I’m determined to repay the faith they have shown in me.

Looking back on your rookie season, what did you enjoy the most?
There were a lot of special moments. The race in Shanghai is something that I will always remember when I overtook Schumacher and Webber to score my first points. Then, the first time I made Q3 in Turkey was an important step for me. And, of course, the race in Hungary was probably my best weekend when everything came together for me.

How has your life change since you became an F1 driver?
There’s a lot more travelling and not a lot of time for myself, but I will never complain because I love what I’m doing. I still feel like a boy at Christmas every time I get in the car. Life is not as easy as people think, of course, and there’s a lot more to F1 than driving the car, but it’s an amazing experience and I know I’m lucky to be one of just 24 drivers on the grid.

Do you feel at home at Lotus Renault GP?
Yes, definitely. Previous drivers have always said that there is a special atmosphere here and I have to say I agree with them. The team is very warm, friendly and open, and I get on really well with the guys.

Can you feel the growing support for F1 from Russia?
Definitely. I get more support from my country every week. In fact, recently one of the major lifestyle magazines included me in their top ten most attractive single men of Russia! You can feel that the sport is becoming more popular and soon we will have our own Grand Prix, which will create ore interest. Even our prime minister, Mr Putin, got a taste of F1 when he tried a Renault F1 car earlier this year.

What will be the main challenges of 2011?
There are quite a few changes that we have to adapt to as a team: new tyres, moveable rear wings and KERS, which I’ve never used before. There’s even a new race in India. So there are some things to adapt to, but they should improve the show and make for better racing. I’ve already seen the new car in the wind tunnel and it looks very promising. I also love our new colours and can’t wait to get back in the car and go racing.

What do you hope to achieve in your second season?
My objective is to continue improving as a driver and to become more consistent. There were times this year when I made mistakes and lost points, and I know this is where I can improve. I think I showed that I have the speed, but I need to be consistent over the whole weekend and get the maximum from every session.

What is your plan over the next couple of months before testing begins in February?
I was thinking about spending a few days in Maranello this winter, but I have been told it probably wasn’t the best idea… Seriously, after a busy year I’m taking the time to go back home and see my family and friends. It’s also the time to recharge my batteries so that I can come back fresh next year. I’m already working hard on my fitness and doing lots of training to be ready for the start of the season. Then, in January, I will be at the factory to see my engineers and for my seat-fit in the new car.

View the list of 2011 F1 drivers and teams.

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111 comments on Petrov to remain at Renault in 2011 and 2012

  1. Griggs said on 22nd December 2010, 12:49

    Oh dear.

  2. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 22nd December 2010, 13:00

    I’m actually pretty gald to hear this news. Lotus Renault GP sticking with Petrov has bucked the worrying trend of teams signing up successful GP2 drivers, giving them a brief stint in F1 and then discarding them leaving them searching for reserve driver roles or drives in IndyCar, GT1 etc etc etc.

    Yes he’s bringing a sizable wad of cash, but he also has shown a fair turn of speed and will no doubt improve in his second season. Good rto see a team showing some faith in their talent.

  3. Not surprised Petrov is staying with Renault but surprised he got a two year deal, I suppose with the way contracts are in F1 there is no guarantee it will last the full two years though.

  4. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd December 2010, 13:06

    I can’t say I’m surprised at the reactions to this. Petrov wasn’t the most popular driver this season. But it’s easy to forget two very important elements:

    Firstly, Renault never expected to be competitive this year. I distinctly remember people like James Allison saying that they had a three-year plan to get back on top of the world when the R30 was launched, And as a part of that plan, Renault were expecting a muted 2010. They weren’t planning on being as competitive as they were until the end of 2011. After all, this was just as they were clawing their way out of the mud that was the Singapore investigations. The R30 suprised even them,

    It is known that Petrov brought fifteen million Euros to the team. And that their budget for 2010 was a hundred and fifty million Euros. So that’s ten percent of their budget that he accounted for. And because he was signed the day the R30 was unveiled, not one Euro from his sponsor package actually went into the initial design of the R30. But fifteen million Euros is no small amount, so there’s one other place it could have gone: research and development. Petrov’s money gave Renault that little bit extra to play around with when it came to developing the car. With it, they were able to pursue a more-aggressive development strategy. Now, I’m not saying that Petrov alone is solely responsible for Renault’s success, and it’s impossible to say whether Kubica would have scored some of the results he did without Petrov in the team – but I think it’s wrong to write him off entirely. In his own way, Petrov helped the team out.

    It’s also a misconception to say that a different second driver would have given Renault fourth in the WCC. I crunched the numbers a while ago (roughly, I should say), and assuming that Petrov average finishing position was one place lower than Kubica’s, and assuming that Schuamcher and Rosberg maintained the same average finishing position as they did in 2010, then Mercedes still would have triumphed by four points.

    • DannyJ said on 22nd December 2010, 13:20

      An excellent and balanced response, Thank you.

    • Alex Bkk said on 22nd December 2010, 15:02

      It is known that Petrov brought fifteen million Euros to the team. And that their budget for 2010 was a hundred and fifty million Euros. So that’s ten percent of their budget that he accounted for.

      And that’s why this is story… in the epitome of the automobile racing world… it all comes down to advertising.

    • Petrov’s money may have helped the team, but Kubica absolutely destroyed him this year. Maybe Renault never had a chance to beat Mercedes this year, but that’s no excuse for Petrov’s poor season. He finished over 100 points behind his team mate, that is terrible by rookie standards.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 22nd December 2010, 23:22

        He’s a rookie. A rookie who never drove a Formula 1 car until winter testing began this year. And even then, he got very little time in it because Renault needed Kubica to do as much dry-weather running as possible. Compare that to Hulkenberg and Kobayashi, both of whom had very good relationships with existing teams – Williams and Toyota respectively – for several years, where they often tested the cars.

        Besides, Petrov was partnered with Kubica, one of the highest-rated drivers on the grid.

        • Alex Bkk said on 23rd December 2010, 13:39

          Senna, Prost, Shumacher, Mansell, Alonso and Hamilton would have eaten Pet for lunch in their rookie years.

          I’m guessing that you are suggesting that Pet’s year is down to the testing ban and that I’m totally against.

          I like Pet… I just don’t think he is up to par as an F1 driver. Think about it. How many rookies get a 3 year contract confirmed after a bad season?

          Like I said… it’s all come down to the advertising dollar, pound, euro or what ever you want to call it.

          Personally I like Pet, but Pet is out of his league.

  5. DannyJ said on 22nd December 2010, 13:18

    My my, we are quick to throw people on the trash heap aren’t we! Good for Petrov, good for Renault. Yes, I agree he under performed last season, as did half of the grid! No-one takes the time to build relationships and foster talent any more…

    Are you all fans of the X-factor by chance?

  6. damonsmedley said on 22nd December 2010, 13:20

    Well he has potential, but as soon as I read the headline I thought sarcastically to myself: “I wonder why he was signed on for two years?” Money? Quite probable. To retain Russian interest in F1 for an extended period due to the proposed 2014 Russian Grand Prix? Definitely. But I still like him a lot, because he is kind of like Kobayashi in that he never backs down from a challenge, and his race in Korea until the unusual crash was actually quite admirable. Good on him, I say. :)

  7. This news is great, although I kind of like Heidfeld but Petrov should have little more time to adapt he has shown that there is a spark in him that can only get bigger. I cant wait to seem him perform on the new Pirelli’s, maybe he will cope with to them much better

  8. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 22nd December 2010, 14:07

    In many ways, 2010 was about learning. 2011 will be about performing.

    He hit the nail on the head there. I’m glad he’s retained his seat, he was good to watch in 2010, mistakes included. Look forward to seeing him develop as a driver.

    Good stuff on Log In link at the top Keith.

  9. The Limit said on 22nd December 2010, 14:14

    Money obviously was a draw for the team, but Abu Dhabi certainly made the decision to keep Petrov easier. At the start of the season I thought Petrov would flounder after the number of crashes he was involved in, but the amount of time he held Fernando at bay in the end proved the Russian can cut it to a certain extent.
    One suspects more will be expected of him in 2011, but everybody has to start somewhere.

  10. The big news will be if Kubica stays there. Personally I think he and Massa will do a swap.

  11. Well, it’s good to hear that Petrov and his family will retain the use of their fingers.

    But seriously, folks – I do think he deserves another drive. Unfortunately, with the Mario Kart wings, it’s unlikely he’ll be given a chance to prove his mettle the way he did in front of Alonso…

  12. I’m also surprised by all the negative comments here about Petrov. Sure, he was outpaced by Kubica throughout the season but that’s like saying Button was outperformed by Hamilton, or Hulkenberg by Barrichello. He’s a decent driver with a world class team mate, not to mention the fact he’s still a rookie with plenty of room for improvement, which I’m sure he will given the chance.

    I’m glad he’s retained the seat.

    • Griggs said on 22nd December 2010, 17:55

      I personally think Petrov was the most out of his depth driver on the grid last season. He had the best car of all the rookies and more often than not put in a poor performance.

      His previous experience in other categories is hardly flattering either.

      For me the appointment of Petrov, who is clearly bringing a LOT of money to the team symbolises the fall of a once great team. Sure, they will do better for the money and fair enough, but it’s sad to see them in this position.

      All the best to Petrov for next season though. His poor performances this year appeared to be him struggling with the pressure the team were placing on him to keep his seat for 2011. With that out of the way we may see him perform.

      Bring on 2011.

      • Alex Bkk said on 23rd December 2010, 14:16

        Agreed, but there has to be a lift on the testing. It’s hard for me to believe that a very good driver can not acclimate to the F1 environment.

        Having said that I can depose several CART or INDY drivers in the mix Yes they were champions in America but they didn’t make it in F1. There is something about F1 that is unique above all over venues. Jacques got it done, but he didn’t beat Hill to a WDC.

        Pet isn’t the league of even the best 2nd motor racing series.
        Pet is in F1 because of the money he can bring to Renault.

        Niki Lauda used to get loans from banks to buy a ride… but he was confident that he could pay them back with purses from the wins and so he did.

        Really, what’s Pet got to offer?

  13. I have mixed feeling over this, if Petrov wasn’t a rookie I doubt that he would have been given a second chance. Petrov had some decent races in 2010, but overall he was poor. Boullier should give him only half a season to get his act together, if he doesn’t improve, then he should be fired.

    Petrov was poor in 2010, but as a rookie, I guess he should get a second chance. But if he doesn’t improve by around Silverstone next year, then he shouldn’t be in Formula One.

  14. Its true that he performed badly more then any positive drives. But it was a rookie season and rookies make mistaks. Petrov will need to seriously raise his game next season if hes to last till 2012. Keeping him will atleast give him a chance to impress, which shouldnt be too hard given that he wasnt exactly setting the world alight this season gone.

    Agree with Journeyer, its a money thing more then anything else.

  15. Beninlux said on 22nd December 2010, 17:20

    “I was thinking about spending a few days in Maranello this winter, but I have been told it probably wasn’t the best idea… ”

    Classic!

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