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

  1. 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

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

  6. noomie (@noomie) said on 17th February 2012, 10:32

    Money makes the F1 world go round…

  7. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 17th February 2012, 10:35

    Wow, it actually went through!

    I’m glad, I like Petrov. I think he’s got something, and the fact he’s a tad crash happy makes him all the more likeable.

  8. Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 17th February 2012, 10:36

    Hah, if Luiz Razia’s latest tweet is anything to go by, it seems that Jarno was poised to lose his drive anyway!!/luizrazia/status/170455093496397825

    Google Translate: “Could have a Brazilian on @caterhamf1 if it was not a lack of sponsorship which does not only I but many pilots have to work problemas.Borá”

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 17th February 2012, 12:38

      I do think it likely Trulli knew they were talking with several drivers, and would perhaps take either of those if the money came through.

      After two seasons of F1, the team might feel that they can go for a single experienced driver, and a younger guy with some money to stir up things a bit, especially given Trulli’s problems last year meant he couldn’t push Kova even on Saturdays.

  9. rUN_FOR_IT_SCOOBY said on 17th February 2012, 10:38


  10. Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 17th February 2012, 10:38

    Anywho, I’m very happy for Petrov but at the same time I’m insanely gutted for Jarno. First Rubens and now him…

    I just want Caterham to do well this year.

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th February 2012, 10:41

    And Petrov moves from The Team Now Known As Lotus to The Team Formerly Known As Lotus.

  12. Shimks (@shimks) said on 17th February 2012, 10:43

    This is good news for Caterham. I’m sorry for Trulli – such a late decision – but Petrov is fresher, less tired of the whole circus, certainly more ambitious. Trulli really seemed to be finished with F1 for a couple of seasons now. Petrov and Kovalainen will make a good combo. I’ve been a fan of Petrov’s from the beginning. Sure, he’s not perfect. But he’s got potential, I reckon. And I bet the finance he’s bringing is huge.

  13. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 17th February 2012, 10:53

    Petrov to The Team Formerly Known As Lotus? I am totally selling out!


  14. Don Mateo (@don-mateo) said on 17th February 2012, 11:01

    Not surprised by this, it’s been rumoured for months, but the way it’s happened leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

    I didn’t think Trulli should have continued this year, and when they announced him as a 2012 driver I was disappointed as I thought Trulli was dragging out his career and taking up a seat that could otherwise go to someone younger and with more potential. However, having announced he had a contract, letting him test the car and then dumping him just weeks before the season for someone with deep pockets just seems wrong to me.

    I’m sure that the reason it’s happened this way is that Caterham were waiting for the money to materialise, but ideally Trulli’s contract shouldn’t have been renewed and he should have left the team at the end of last season.

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