Vitaly Petrov replaces Jarno Trulli at Caterham

2012 F1 season

Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, 2012

Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, 2012

Caterham have announced Vitaly Petrov has replaced Jarno Trulli at the team “with immediate effect”.

Trulli has driven for the team since it was set up in 2010. Last year they announced he would drive for them in 2012.

But since Petrov lost his place at Renault (now Lotus), also with a year to run on his contract, there has been considerable speculation linking him to Trulli’s place at Caterham.

Team Principal Tony Fernandes said: “We are all delighted to welcome Vitaly into our team and are very excited about the role he will play in helping us take the next steps forward in 2012 and for many years to come.

“When we first met it was immediately clear that Vitaly understands and shares our vision for how we want our team to grow. As the first Russian to race in F1 he carries the hopes of a huge nation with ease and his talents, experience with one of our current competitors and insights on and off track will play a huge role in our development as we fight to join the established teams ahead.”

Petrov said: “This is a very exciting day for me. I would like to thank Tony, Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin for giving me the chance to join a team that made its F1 debut at the same time as me, and has grown from one of the new teams to a serious force for future honours.

“The passion and spirit that Tony and the whole team have to keep moving forwards is infectious, and I am honoured to be able to join them and play my part in helping the team mount a serious challenge to the teams ahead in 2012 and for many seasons to come.

“I have been training hard all winter and am ready to get back into the cockpit and go to work. From what I have seen already, our new car is another good step forward from 2011 and now I cannot wait to see how it feels when we get to Barcelona. I would also like to take this chance to thank all my fans and partners for their support and their patience.”

The news means Trulli has lost his place in F1. In a statement released by the team he said: “I want to take this chance to thank Tony, Kamarudin, SM Nasarudin, Riad, Mike and everyone in the team for the two seasons we had together.

“From zero we built up and established a solid F1 team. I’m really proud to have been part of it. I understand the decision the team has made and I want to wish to the whole team the very best of luck for the season ahead.”

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175 comments on Vitaly Petrov replaces Jarno Trulli at Caterham

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  1. I suppose the big question on everyones mind will be: Sponsorship money or genuine investment?

    • Andy W (@andy-w) said on 17th February 2012, 10:13

      Or maybe both….

      Petrov has demonstrated skill and speed, maybe he isn’t WDC material but he is certainly podium and race win capable given a car good enough to get there.

      • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 17th February 2012, 10:56

        “maybe he’s isn’t WDC material”
        so you’re not sure !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • JCost (@jcost) said on 17th February 2012, 13:39


          I think he won’t become WDC in the decade to come… but who knows…

        • Andy W (@andy-w) said on 17th February 2012, 14:21

          Nope, not sure. I do rate Vitally as a driver, and think that he has potential… and in the right car… who knows… but otherwise I think their are better drivers on the grid.

      • Aditya (@) said on 19th February 2012, 8:20

        People who have a poor debut season records like Petrov do not deserve a second chance. He got less than a fifth of his teammate’s points. In the old system of pointscoring(10-8-6…) he got 9 points to Kubica’s 55.

    • Leftie (@leftie) said on 17th February 2012, 10:14

      There is no question here. Petrov’s manager openly stated it is all about sponsorship earlier.

      • True, not hopes of a big nation”, but money from russian investors, and i think after two years its obviously true, but somehow lot of ppl seem to say “Petrov has potential”. Yeah, like Senna and others ‘potentially’ champions of F1…

    • vjanik said on 17th February 2012, 11:18

      Lotus have to pay him for this year because they let him go prior to the expiration of his contract. So theoretically he might forego a paycheck from Caterham given that he has income for 2012. This means Caterham would get a free driver who will be able to promote Caterham cars in Russia. A good deal, even on top of any cash that Petrov brings in directly.

      At least he wont be complaining as much as Trulli was last year. I think they got rid of Trulli just to end the constant whining.

      • That’s assuming that Lotus paid him isn’t it?

        • vjanik said on 17th February 2012, 13:22

          they are contractually obliged. they dont want to be facing a lawsuit.

          In F1 it is common to change drivers prior to their contract expiring, but they do get what they were due. That the purpose of the contract and it is binding and enforceable by local law.

          • TheBrav3 said on 17th February 2012, 14:13

            Unless the contract contains a clause stating if the drivers performance is so outrageously poor (as it was last year) they can let him go when ever and how ever they like. As far as i know most driver contracts generaly have a bunch of get outs for both sides.

            Caterham definitely were paying him last year and i suspect trulli will get his final payout so to speak but you never know what the f1 lawyers will do.

          • vjanik said on 17th February 2012, 16:07

            we were actually talking about Petrov, but yes, you’re right.

            I am assuming though that Petrov did get paid, and that potentially makes the deal for Caterham even better, thats all.

          • JeffS86 said on 17th February 2012, 19:13

            I’m wondering if Lotus may have an out as far as Petrov’s contract goes. There was that article last year where Petrov had his outburst slamming the team performance before he was dismissed. I seem to remember several of the articles saying that he had been supposedly forbidden from bashing the team or the car, which he proceeded to do in that outburst prior to his dismissal. Perhaps that was in the contract, which would constitute a breach on his behalf?

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 17th February 2012, 13:14

      Bit of both, really. At this point, I rate Petrov higher than Trulli. And he has money too.

      Now Caterham have a nice line-up. It’s hard to think Trulli could have a better year than Petrov.

      It’s good for everyone: Trulli was done after 2009.

      We’ll all remember Monaco 2004… but that’s it.

      • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 17th February 2012, 13:27

        That’s exactly my thought. I didn’t even consider it a money move. Rather, I think they saw a better driver and with every little bit being important this year towards that crucial first point, might as well make it the strongest line-up possible. Petrov is absolutely rated higher than Trulli in my book. Not phenomenal, but higher on the food chain for sure.

    • SennaNmbr1 (@) said on 17th February 2012, 18:27

      Petrov is good enough to be in F1 and Trulli was demonstrating that he wasn’t.

  2. Jeremy said on 17th February 2012, 10:03

    Oh dear Jarno.

    • rpiian (@rpiian) said on 17th February 2012, 13:23

      Indeed. I consider him a good driver. Honestly I think if Caterham/Team Lotus had given him a good car he would have shone. Although he was the biggest whiner out of any of the drivers, he certainly had reason to be. Misfortune and crap driveability is enough to be frustrated about.

      Looking back at when he drove for Toyota, he was a fierce competitor! I always paid attention to him and Timo as they were blazing fast at times.

  3. deanmachine (@deanmachine) said on 17th February 2012, 10:06

    Wow, I mean I heard this rumour, but for it to actually happen, and this close to the start of the season, I don’t quite believe it! I mean he’s been testing the new Caterham.

    Feel sorry for Jarno though, even though I’m not the biggest fan of his.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th February 2012, 10:11


      I mean heā€™s been testing the new Caterham.

      That’s definitely one of the most surprising things about it. It’s very late in the day for a change like this.

      Of course, they only gave him one day…

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 17th February 2012, 10:19

        I guess it might be seen as a thank you and goodbye for Trulli.

        Or just to push Petrov’s backers to speed up the bank transfer.

      • coefficient (@coefficient) said on 17th February 2012, 12:14

        On the day he Jarno tested the new Caterham he gave a press conference thanking the team for the two years they gave him and wished them luck for the future. I’d say the message was pretty clear. I think the team just let him have one last hurrah to say thanks and sorry for the short notice.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 17th February 2012, 12:10

      Shame for Trulli that Toyota pulled out of the sport. He was doing solidly as recently as 2008 and 2009.

      • George (@george) said on 17th February 2012, 17:51

        Well, if they’d gotten a win they might have stayed in the sport. They certainly came close on one or two occasions, maybe a better driver would have tipped the balance.

    • IndianF1 said on 17th February 2012, 12:34

      Sutil not in the driver lineup for 2012. Trulli gone. No more Trulli vs Sutil fights. What has F1 come to these days :-)

    • peru.kowalsky said on 17th February 2012, 17:07

      don’t be. He’s had a better f1 career than his talent should have provided. He is a millioner, so he is much better off than most of us.
      I don’t think petrov is any better than him, but he is younger and has the needed cash. So let’s see how well he does.

  4. F1abw (@f1abw) said on 17th February 2012, 10:06

    Will Jarno be sticking around as an experienced test driver, or is he out of the Caterham picture all together now?

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th February 2012, 10:07

    So Mike Gascoyne, a long-time supporter of Trulli’s, gets a promotion upstairs one day, and Trulli’s out on his ear the next…

    • Shimks (@shimks) said on 17th February 2012, 10:39

      Gascoyne becoming CTO of Caterham Group isn’t a great move for the F1 side of the business, in my opinion. Too much on the plate. He should be concentrating solely on the F1 team. I guess all that will change again as they grow.

      • OOliver said on 17th February 2012, 11:56

        Gascoyne is better as an engineering manager than hands on. Most of the work on the current car are by the recent additions to the team, Smith and co.

    • TheBrav3 said on 17th February 2012, 13:30

      Perhaps as cto mike couldn’t justify the expense of trullis salary based on the performance he brings or rather doesn’t bring to the car. :P

  6. rdpunk (@) said on 17th February 2012, 10:08

    Wow I was shocked when I seen this come up on my Twitter! I was certain that Trulli would have a drive this season because they’ve designed a car around him and put gave him driving time in the tests and now just thrown him away from Petrov.

  7. Roald (@roald) said on 17th February 2012, 10:09

    Damn it, that should have been Van Der GardeĀ“s seat!

    • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 17th February 2012, 10:29

      What’s more, it seems that Van der Garde turned down a chance to race at HRT in favour of a third driver role with better prospects, but unless Heikki moves on to greener pastures for 2013, it’s not so likely that Guido will take over the second Caterham seat some time in the future.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 17th February 2012, 11:14

      that should have been Van Der GardeĀ“s seat!

      Giedo van der Garde? Is that what his driver’s licence says?

      Huh. I always knew him as The Guy Who Collapsed At The End Of The 2012 GP2 Series Season.

    • coefficient (@coefficient) said on 17th February 2012, 12:16


    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 17th February 2012, 12:50

      Van Der Garde?!? You got to be joking.

      We have Sutil, Alguersuari and Buemi who were more deserving of that seat than Van Der Garde.

      But lets face it, the least deserving candidate got the seat in the end. I hope Petrov gets hammered by Heikki this season.

      • Tango (@tango) said on 17th February 2012, 15:44

        He held his own vs Heidfield. I don’t know how to match Heidfield vs Kova but I’d be surprised if there were a huge margin between the two. (but ok, I wouldn’t bet on Petrov having the upper hand).

    • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 17th February 2012, 15:05

      Maybe it will be van der Gardes’ in the future, @Roald
      Looking at his career so far, he probably needs some time before he’s fast. So I still think 3rd driver is fitting for him at this stage.

  8. topdowntoedown (@topdowntoedown) said on 17th February 2012, 10:10

    Not a surprise that this has happened – although perhaps a surprise that it’s taken this long.

    Clearly I don’t know the background for the decision, but I believe I’m right in saying that Trulli has never driven a KERS car before last week? Toyota didn’t have it in 2009, and GreenLotus haven’t until now. Trulli’s an old-school racer, he just likes sitting in a car and going fast. He’s not a fan of all the buttons, bells and whistles. Perhaps he tried the KERS, didn’t like it and decided he might as well pack it in and go back to the vineyard? (I’ve had some of his wine and it’s excellent).

    I reckon Petrov will do a decent job. He knows the Renault engine/KERS package and he’s quick enough to keep Kova honest.

  9. PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 17th February 2012, 10:11

    To be quite honest, I’m not surprised.

    • Same…

      Honestly… I can see why they would drop Jarno, as much as I like him. Last two years Heikki has beaten him by a fair margin.

      However, picking up Petrov in his place, when there are so many other talented guys without a drive tells me that they fell for the money.

  10. Leftie (@leftie) said on 17th February 2012, 10:11

    This is just plain wrong! What a disgrace…gutted.

    • zicasso (@zicasso) said on 17th February 2012, 10:46

      I wouldn’t say that… Jarno is clearly gone in terms of performance, the team needs the investment and a driver that can, perhaps, challenge Kova and push for better results within the team. Good for the team and hopefully it will bring more exciting races at back.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 17th February 2012, 14:06

      Like many people said here, I think Petrov is best of both worlds for Caterham. He comes with money and is a good driver, on my book better than Trulli.

      • Todfod (@todfod) said on 17th February 2012, 14:31

        I would agree about the cash , but how could you possibly call Vitaly a good driver? He’s had 3 good races in 2 full seasons, and has been ridiculously poor in almost 10 races so far.

  11. Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 17th February 2012, 10:11

    The money came! It finally came!

    That is all.

  12. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 17th February 2012, 10:11

    So he collected the money after all. Still, as I am strongly opposing the idea of pay drivers, in this case it’s actually change for better talent-wise. Jarno was past his prime for quite some time and Vitaly showed he’s not the worst pair of hands on the grid.

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 17th February 2012, 10:16

      My thoughts exactly. He’ll push Heikki harder. Vitaly’s stint at Renault proved there is at least some talent behind that mountain of cash.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 17th February 2012, 11:20

      Completely agree, I just don’t like the way Caterham handled the situation. They should have fired Trulli on November 27, 2011 or at least in December as there was no shortage of good & available drivers. There was no need to include Trulli in the official line-up, tell the world that he was going to race in 2012 and let him take part in testing. Just four days ago, Autosport still wrote that “Jarno Trulli sure he will keep his Caterham drive”.

  13. ScuderiaVincero (@scuderiavincero) said on 17th February 2012, 10:14

    Keith, your headlines have got to be less shocking. I woke up half my dorm thanks to my surprise :P

  14. Tedster said on 17th February 2012, 10:18

    So glad we wont have to listen to Jarno moan about the power steering for one more season! Goodbye and good riddance to the Trulli trains is all I can say! Good luck to Vitaly

    • bearforce1 said on 17th February 2012, 12:18

      I’ll miss being able to appear knowledgeable and in the know shouting out “Trulli train” during races.

      • Kanil (@kanil) said on 17th February 2012, 20:28

        Trulli trains haven’t been as fun since he stopped qualifying up near the front in the Toyota — he can only block Marussa and HRT these days, and that’s not so entertaining.

    • peru-kowalsky said on 17th February 2012, 22:01

      agree. And don’t forget complaining about sutil’s drving style. He wasn’t any longer f1 material.

  15. Rubles.

  16. Congrats to Petrov who I’m glad has a seat but I can’t hide my disappointment for Jarno. Before people jump all over me as I know Jarno’s not popular here, I’m not saying he deserves the seat more than Vitaly just that I loved Jarno. He was blighted by problems with the power steering (to a fairly funny level for the rest of us) but it must have been a nightmare to drive with. I don’t think Heikki ever blew him away either (at least not in 2010) but it’s a sad end to a long career which had masses of potential.

    Jarno has been called a few times one of the nicest guys in the paddock by people like Brundle and EJ, he was amazing with his charity work after the earthquake in Italy and he’s been responsible for some of my favourite moments of F1. I will never, ever forget his Monaco 04 pole lap (or Brundle taking us through it). It was one of the best laps I have ever seen in F1 and it still gives me tingles to watch it. His podiums at the Nurburgring in 99, France 08, Aus 09 and Suzuka 09 were all terrific I felt. The worst thing that happened to his career I think was being made a team mate to Alonso – which is quite worrying for a Massa fan- and things started to go a bit wrong from there but I thought he was the best driver Toyota ever had even if Glock was often more highly rated.

    The saddest thing for me about Jarno being in a Lotus was that he couldn’t seem to be able to put in his magic Saturday laps which made me love qualifying. He just seemed to know how to get the car perfect, keep it on the limit (never over) and just get everything so, so perfect. It was gorgeous to watch and one of the few things I enjoyed about the 09 season was early on when Jarno could showcase that. So it looks like it’s a farewell to Jarno. You may not have the massive fanbase of Rubens, who is also a nice guy and has just been booted out of F1 rather unceremoniously after years oddly enough, but for me it was an absolute pleasure to watch you and you helped me fall in love with this sport.

    • Bobdredds (@bobdredds) said on 17th February 2012, 10:28

      He makes great wine.:) Jarno was always fast over one lap but takes too much out of the car in doing so IMHO. I dont think his style suited modern cars but he has certainly been an entertaining racer and I wish him well.

      • tho people talk alot about it being bad as alonso’s team mate, but they forget that they are great friends. It was flavio that didnt like 2 team mates getting on so well.

        • Skett (@skett) said on 17th February 2012, 12:30

          I don’t doubt that there wouldn’t have been too many problems if it wasn’t for Flavio.

          Trulli basically got kicked from Renault for being too close to Alonso!

    • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 17th February 2012, 10:38

      Great tribute @Steph ! I think the face he is older and being underperformed by his team mate has made him a bit of an easy target around these parts, although Kovaleinen has clearly better him within the Caterham team.

      • Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 17th February 2012, 12:34

        Great post Steph and as a lifelong fan of Trulli, I totally agree. It’s all to easy to forget that, Hamilton aside, Jarno was probably the closest any of Alonso’s team mates have ever been to him (you could even argue that he was a better team mate than Lewis was if you really wanted to!)

        In the second half of 09 you could really see the passion in Jarno’s driving as he knew he had to get that elusive win to make Toyota even think about staying in the sport. It’s why I think he was so uncharacteristically angry with the Sutil incident at Brazil but since then, he’s clearly been demotivated and this is the right step for the team.

        I’ll miss you, Jarno.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 17th February 2012, 12:34

      Thanks for that @Steph, very well said. I have been laughing a bit at Trulli over the power steering, and before that about the collision photos from ’09, but always with a sad feeling that only two (well, by now three) years ago, he almost got the first Toyota win.

      One can’t help but feel that after the trouble with Briatore, the everlasting Toyota “this year we’ll have the car to fight for WDC” must have been eating at him just a bit. And still he was able to do great things on Saturdays with that car.

      I think that with Lotus he does feel like he helped them get to where they are now: well on their way to being a real F1 team. I hope he maintains that, rather than being bitter about this late switch.

    • @Steph I wouldn’t say Trulli is disliked here, he’s had a decent career but his time is just coming to an end as it must for all drivers, and as there are a lot of young talented drivers without drives that is the reason for any source of hostility towards him, rather than actual dislike.

      I had a look at some records and Trulli is now fourth all time on all time GP starts (252) and would have overtaken Patrese if he’d carried on racing. You don’t start so many races if you’re not a very good driver, and it says a lot that so teams wanted to employ him (like Rubens) for such a long period of time.

    • Cacarella (@cacarella) said on 17th February 2012, 20:02

      If someone was fishing for COTD, I think she may have got it…

    • Kris H. said on 17th February 2012, 22:13

      +1. The Monaco 2004 quali lap and subsequent win is one of my all-time favorite moments in that whole decade. Especially because it came when Schumi looked to win every race that year.

  17. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 17th February 2012, 10:23

    If this had been announced in December, I would not have been surprised, and I would not have minded as Trulli has had a long and occasionally successful career.

    Now, though, I was completely shocked, and it leaves quite a bad taste in the mouth. Reportedly, Trulli was happy, and happy with the new car and must have fully expected to go racing in a month’s time. If Caterham had wanted to look for a driver with money, they should not have signed Trulli as early as July last year. I feel only Red Bull’s treatment of Alguersuari (letting him believe he would drive for STR in 2012, and then sacking him when he had already turned down another offer) was more shameful.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 17th February 2012, 10:33

      I think that Trulli has been fully aware of the fact that the team were only waiting for the bank transfer to confirm Petrov for a couple of weeks now.

      Actually I think Petrov and Caterham is quite a nice fit. Lets see if he can start to be consistent and grow as a driver.

      A bit of a shame to see Trulli’s career end like this, without any nice bits to remember the end of it. I hope he gets a nice car for a LeMans stint or goes to IndyCars as well and shows he still has the speed in him.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 17th February 2012, 12:27

        I agree, I do think it must have been clear to Trulli that the power steering problems, and him sadly being unable to overcome them were taking too long and would affect his future in the team.

        Especially after the Indian GP thing, I have to think the contract had clear opt-outs, and testing in Jerez was a thank you, we do appreciate your skill and talent Trulli, but you’ll understand that if the money comes Petrov gets the car.

        Finally: would be great to have Trulli and Barichello in Indy Cars showing they are still fast.

  18. I’m not sure what to expect of Petrov in 2012. His two years at Renault wern’t great and he didn’t make a great impression on Kubica or Heidfeld, though he did show flashes of potential. I guess based on the last two years, I see Kovalainen being comfortably ahead of Petrov most of the time, with Petrov occasionally matching or beating him.

  19. gavmaclean (@gavmaclean) said on 17th February 2012, 10:25

    I feel for Jarno, I didn’t think it was possible for someone to get shabbier treatment than Rubens but they managed it. Though I do like Petrov, but I’m old-fashioned and I just think if you sign a contract, you keep the driver.

    Just hope it starts a little reappraisal as Tony Fernandes from the loveable, honest team player that he’s made out to be, to the frankly hard-nosed, disloyal, business man he continually proves to be in this sport and others.

    • Bobdredds (@bobdredds) said on 17th February 2012, 10:37

      Both Ruben’s and Jarno’s days in F1 were numbered for quite some time and nobody expected them to add to their acchievements in F1. In Rubens case he refused to accept his position which is why it seemed he was treated badly. In fact he ****** of Williams with his moaning throughout the season.
      They both had their chance and had long careers in F1 but it is not a right and if you stay too long the inevitable happens and you get overtaken by younger talent or sponsorship or both.

  20. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 17th February 2012, 10:29

    The senior management at Lotus certainly won’t like him now! :P

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