Renault to confirm Petrov tomorrow?

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Renault is expected to announce Vitaly Petrov as the team’s second driver for 2010 when the team reveals its new F1 car.

Will Buxton claims Petrov’s deal with the team will bring them sponsorship worth 10m. It would make him the first Russian driver to compete in Formula 1.

Petrov finished as runner-up in the GP2 championship last year, behind rookie Nico H??lkenberg who will race for Williams this year.

Petrov gradually improved during his three-and-a-half years as a GP2 driver and is the fourth driver from the championship to join F1 this year, along with Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi.

If Renault confirm Petrov tomorrow it will leave just two seats unfilled, at US F1 and Campos, and one fewer opportunity for Nick Heidfeld to keep racing in F1.

61 comments on “Renault to confirm Petrov tomorrow?”

  1. As much as I was hoping Nick Heidfeld would get the seat, this would seem to be the most sensible option for Renault. They already have a very good driver in Robert Kubica, what they need now is money. Petrov has it, Heidfeld doesn’t, simple as that.

    I was wondering how many Eastern Europeans there have been in F1- I can only think of Kubica and HWNSNBM (that’s Zsolt Baumgartner for anyone who doesn’t follow F1 Rejects!). I’m sure Petrov and Kubica will be the first Eastern European team mates. It seems as though the F1 might finally be starting to gain some momentum in the ‘Eastern bloc’.

    1. Tomas Enge (Czech Republic) drove three races for Prost in 2002. Enge beat Sebastien Bourdais to that year’s F3000 title but was stripped of his crown after a drugs test.

      There were also several East German drivers in the early post-war years, but I’m not sure they’d count.

  2. CounterStrike
    30th January 2010, 19:26

    Money talks.

    1. Yes it does – that’s one reason why Santander is now plastered all over the Ferrari instead of the McLaren. Petrov has corporate sponsorship – that’s something Renault, and a lot of other teams, haven’t been able to get on their own.

  3. I quite like the driver pairings for this season.

    McLaren – pure British team
    Mercedes – pure German team
    Renault – pure Slavic team

    1. Ferrari – Pure Latin team.

      1. Britannia

        Definitively F1 needs a GP around “The Colosseo”.

        “Max imperator” will be very jealous. I hope he will not try to burn Rome…

        1. “Scandinavia” – not quite. Actually, the lands roughly corresponding to Eastern Europe/Central Asia today were known as Sarmatia to the Romans.

        2. This isn’t Total War you know.

  4. Is Polish a Slavic language?

    1. Yeah, I think it is.

    2. It sure is. ;-)
      It’s a western Slavic language, together with Czech and Slovakian.

    3. ITs a nordic language.

      1. No, it’s as Slavic as you can get. Nordic languages are Norwegian, Swedish and all the old Norse languages that have made English what it is today.

        Polish, Czech, Russian, CRoatian, Serbien, etc. are all Slavic and are roughly as similar to one another as Spanish, Italian, and French.

        1. I like this language chat! Did you know that Romanian is actually a Latin language, and that Hungarian isn’t Slavic either- for some reason they speak from the same language group as Finns.

          1. Yup. The group also includes Estonian and Latvian. I’ve always liked to find out how different languages are related. There’s some really unexpected stuff sometimes. Like Hindi and all our European languages, or Turkish and Japanese. Makes you wonder how these various groups of people moved around over all these distances when transport was all ox-carts and wooden boats. Anhoo, a bit off topic.

          2. Star gates ;)

          3. Umm… more like just real slow and careful.

  5. It would appear that Quick Nick is going to be the last man standing when the music stops.

    I feel sorry for him because he probably took a caculated gamble that Michael S would not come back and so waited for Mercedes the irony is that decision could well have cost him his carear

    1. CounterStrike
      30th January 2010, 20:27

      I am sure he’ll be praying for Schumi’s neck to snap :P

    2. Terry Fabulous
      30th January 2010, 21:35

      This is the second time that Mercedes has screwed him over.

      In 2001 when he drove for Sauber he was considered the man in waiting from Mercedes to replace Mika Hakkinen in the McLaren.

      So that time, they chose Kimi and this time they chose Schumi. For Mercedes sake I hope this one turns out better then the last.

      1. That was Ron who made that call not Merc.

  6. Regarding the initial point in question, I wonder about whether Petrov really has the money and Heidfeld does not. This just can’t be true. What you are saying is that Heidfeld doesn’t have sponsors and that a virtual nobody does. I am not saying Petrov isn’t a good driver, he just is a zero in the F1 world due to no experience. Heidfeld has experience and has a tremendous following. If I am a business and want to sponsor one of them I would choose Nick. I believe that the idea of buying a race seat is only as real as we make it, as real as if we buy into this nonsense. Heidfeld could easily sign a sponsor with $15m on condition that he bring them to a team- more easily than Petrov. The only way someone could literally buy a race seat is if there dad was Mr. BankofAmerica and they wanted on the USF1 team or if an oil sheik’s son wanted on a team and they brought half the budget to make it happen. With budgets getting cut each year this means that each team actually needs sponsor money less than they ever did, not more. Petrov will get a ride by deserving the chance and nothing more. Heidfeld has shown us that he can’t make a car do more… Kubica does. When Nick decides to drive on the edge again, he’ll get a race seat. Young drivers are willing to drive on the edge because they aren’t rich and comfortable-yet. So if I want to take a chance on a wild young buck then I take Petrov over Nick and just hope it pans out.

    1. Then I think you got something wrong. As the sources from Renault were saying, Heidfeld was demanding $5 mln, which is kind of unbearable for a team like Renault after being abandoned by some big sponsors. With Petrov’s $15 that gives us quite a difference. A difference which amounts for more than Hiedfeld’s experience. The money would be ignored only if it was about Kubica or Petrov.

      One thought in the end: When NONE of the teams is interested in giving Heidfeld the race seat, this actually means something. Heidfeld-fans often argue that “some” teams didn’t recognize his talent and he’s been screwed. So, are ALL of the teams wrong? Is Ross Brawn, who preferred Schumi&Rosberg, wrong? Just as wrong as Whitmarsh, Sauber, Boulier, Williams and any other team principal? Maybe, just maybe, if someone’s great talent is not recognized by anyone, then it means his talent is not so great actually…

    2. You’re assuming that all drivers have personal sponsors throughout their F1 career – they don’t.

      Nick Heidfeld was supported through his pre-F1 career by Mercedes – he won the F3000 title in a West-sponsored McLaren-liveried Lola and had various testing opportunities with McLaren. He retained those links through his early years in F1 with Prost and Sauber – but it was effectively severed when McLaren picked Kimi Raikkonen to replace Mika Hakkinen.

      Since then, Heidfeld has always been with teams who’ve been able to pay him a salary without requiring him to bring sponsorship. BMW were very keen to have a German driver alongside Mark Webber at Williams and then took him back to Sauber when BMW took it over. Heidfeld has effectively received personal support from BMW, but they can hardly sponsor him at Renault…

      Vitaly Petrov’s large bank balance largely comes through his nationality not just his merits as a racing driver.

  7. finally a talented pay driver.

  8. Being paired with Kubica, Heidfeld was always seen as the experienced driver who can help the team develop the car.
    But now when Kubica is going into his 5th F1 season, Heidfeld’s experience is no longer a point of attraction.

  9. Prisoner Monkeys
    30th January 2010, 22:05

    I like this line from Buxton:

    The Vyborg Rocket, as he is known in Russia, (because he comes from Vyborg and is pretty quick) or Alex from A Clockwork Orange as he is called by others (because he looks like Alex from A Clockwork Orange)

  10. No idea who gets the last 2 seats. Campos used to be easy, if not Petrov, then Maldonado. Now Carroll and di Violeta are in the running. That is, if Campos (Texiera GP?) doesn’t fold first.

    USF1 likely won’t sign Maldonado. So I don’t know who else has sponsor money to bring to the team. Maybe Klien?

    1. Whoever has the most money.

  11. All of the GP2 top-three from 2009 in F1 race seats then! In fact, the only person ever to have finished in the top 3 in GP2 and not raced in F1 is Alexandre Premat – although Pantano’s successes came after his F1 experience.

  12. Prisoner Monkeys
    30th January 2010, 23:39

    I have to say, I’m happy about Petrov joining Renault. I’ve been following him for a while now, and call me shallow if you ill, but it’s largely because he’s Russian. I think it is important that Formula 1 is represented by as many nationalities as possible. I’m not advocating driver selection on the basis of nationality, but with Petrov on the grid here will be drivers of twelve different nationalities, teams from nine different countries an a caledar with eighteen races in eighteen different countries.

    As it stands, there are two major geopolitical areas that Formula 1 has not touched: Africa and the former USSR. Africa is going to be an extraodrinarily tough nut to crack, with a South African or possibly and Egyptian driver team and/or race being the only way to get a foot in the door. But Russia has long been The One That Got Away from Formula 1. Bernie Ecclestone has been trying to get a race there since 1982 when he proposed a Moscow street circuit for a Grand Prix of the Soviet Union, the Monaco of communism but it never took. An they tried again at Nagatino Island in 1998, but that fell through. Now they’ve got the Moscow Raceway (70km away from Moscow, but within Moscow Oblast, so they get away with the name), a circuit under construction at Domodedovo and a proposal for a Grand Prix circuit that actually looks really good at Chekrizovo.

    Robert Kubica opened up the East European market. Hopefully, Vitaly Petrov will open the floodgates just a little bit more. I know there is some bad blood between Russia and Poland, but if Renault did it the right way, they could really get a lot of attention by pitching their driver line-up as a friendly showdown.

    1. I think it is important that Formula 1 is represented by as many nationalities as possible.

      I agree – as long as he’s good enough.

      1. I like that it is a good thing for you and others with that philosophy. I’m sure many want more nationalities involved. I have to say that I don’t really care where they come from, just that they are fast and deserve to be there. Borders don’t mean as much anymore (to me)… that’s what the Olympics are for.

        Nice point though.

    2. With that in mind PM, I assume that- if he/she has talent worthy of the drive- you would support one or more Americans driving in Formula 1?

      1. What if it was Dale Earnhardt Jr.? I couldn’t support that individual. it doesn’t matter to me where they are from as I’ve met just as many nice people from other countries as I have in mine. What is the difference? American? What about another Canadian driver or a Mexican or Belizean?

        1. Prisoner Monkeys
          31st January 2010, 10:31

          The reason I attached myself to Petrov’s following is simple: it is because he is Russian. If he were German, I wouldn’t be as interested because there are already six Germans in Formula 1. Petrov stands out because he comes from a country with no real history of racing, and I believe that in order to be a truly global sport, Formula 1 needs to represent and be represented by people of the entire world. Compare that to something like World Series Baseball, which is only played by America. It’s not a global game the way it makes itself out to be. But Formula 1 is. Vitaly Petrov can only add to that.

      2. Prisoner Monkeys
        31st January 2010, 10:27

        I will support any driver who has demonstrated ability to at least make it into Formula 1 on merit. What happens after that is entirely up to them. We don’t get coverage of the feeder series in Australia, so I can’t really pass judgement on a driver until I see them in action. And that I construct as a virtue because it means I only have their results on paper; I don’t for an opinion of their attitude. When Nelson Piquet joined, I was excited for him because he had demonstrated ability in GP2. My dislike of him stemmed from what happened next.

  13. Tim,

    I hear what you’re saying; its a fair argument. And I may be quite ignorant of the true situation in F1 (being a west coast American hardly qualifies me considering the coverage gap over here) but I still find it hard to believe that sums of $5m or even considering the difference of $20m would make a difference to a car manufacturer like Renault. And as far as the ties Heidfeld had and has- I am saying that there is a German cola company, a candy company, tele company or even an e.d. drug company that his agent could get into talks with and bring to the team. How difficult is it really to acquire sponsorship money? USF1 has nothing to begin with and found Youtube as a sponsor. They don’t have famous drivers or a seated team and they can afford to race.
    i guess I just have this feeling that there is more at play here. I’m not a Heidfeld fan, or detractor, but he’s worth having on a new or even decent team because teams make money selling shirts and hats and all that crap. Heidfeld would probably help sell his $5m in fan-wear alone.
    Again, I’m not saying that Petrov isn’t a calculated decision, in fact I’m arguing this case, because I believe that the decision was made sans cash concerns. Further, the budgets are down by what, half? Ferrari only needs shell and santander to run now. Renault can’t be hurting so bad that they need some silly $15m from an unknown unless they just simply like this driver’s future as a driver- not as a cash-cow. Otherwise sign Schumacher and watch the souvenir money roll and roll and roll in some more. I’d take a 50 year old Schumacher for the USF1 team just for the budget help and experience to train future drivers.

    1. We want turbos
      31st January 2010, 1:35

      I think your forgetting about the sponsorship issues Renault have thanks to the crashgate scandle! Expect their car to bear few sponsors!

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        31st January 2010, 2:36

        Petrov brings Sberbank, Gazprom and possibly MegaFon to the team. If Renault have a bare car in testing, they’ll likely rock up in Bahrain with decals because it takes time to paint the cars properly and order decals in.

        1. Yeah, but Brawn got those Virgin decals on in Australia in quite a hurry last season.

          1. Prisoner Monkeys
            31st January 2010, 5:03

            That was different – it wasn’t a case of a sponsor buying a seat for Button or Barrichello. It was Richard Branson seeing an opportunity and taking it, and it paid off. What SeattleChris is suggesting is that a sponsor comes along and basically shouts Heidfeld a seat for 2011 simply because he doesn’t have one and despite the fact that he hasn’t been able to get one on his own. For better or for worse, all drivers have a reputation, and Heidfeld is no different. If that reputation cannot secure a 2011 drive, why should a sponsor simply come along and give him a seat like that?

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      31st January 2010, 2:34

      Potential sponsors would see no reason to join Heidfeld. He’s just finished his tenth season, and his career is winding down. Even if he secured a drive for 2011, I doubt he’d be in the port for much longer. So why would a sponsor pay twenty million Euros just to get him a seat after he failed to get one by himself despite being one of the most experienced drivers on the grid? No, scratch that: why would a sponsor pay twenty million Euros just to get him a seat because he failed to get one by himself despite being one of the most experienced drivers on the grid? I’d rather invest in someone like Petrov who could be around for a lot longer than Heidfeld. There might be a bigger risk, but there’s a bigger reward to match.

    3. USF1 has nothing to begin with and found Youtube as a sponsor. They dont have famous drivers or a seated team and they can afford to race.

      Well there in lies the problem. USF1 is seriously struggling to raise enough cash to race, they have a real cash flow problem, and who’d have thought that of a team representing one of the biggest and most successful nations in the world. They won’t be attending any of the official tests, along with Campos who are also in financial difficulty. The FIA has agreed to allow them a test in the US, but even then it’ll be a small test by F1 standards.

      If they make the first race it’ll surprise many people, even those involved in F1.

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        31st January 2010, 9:23

        Well there in lies the problem. USF1 is seriously struggling to raise enough cash to race, they have a real cash flow problem, and whod have thought that of a team representing one of the biggest and most successful nations in the world.

        Huh? They do not have sponsor issues. They do not have cash flow issues. There is no evidence to suggest they are having any problem whatsoever.

        They wont be attending any of the official tests, along with Campos who are also in financial difficulty. The FIA has agreed to allow them a test in the US, but even then itll be a small test by F1 standards.

        They have never said they will not attend tests. In fact, they’ve said quite the opposite. The reason they asked the FIA to allow them to test in America is because they are an American team with an American-made car, and so wanted their first kilometres to be driven in America.

        If they make the first race itll surprise many people, even those involved in F1.

        See, now that’s the ignorant attitude that has caused endless problems. USF1 have provided more evidence that they are a serious effort than the other teams combined. Virgin, Lotus and Campos have not given us photos of their facilities, have not released computer renders of their cars and have not shown us parts built to 100% scale. USF1, on the other hand, has. So instead of simply making this stuff up because you have an agenda (but it against America, Peter Windsor or USF1 itself), how about you actually read up on what you’re talking about? Because pretty much everything you just said was so wrong that you probably couldn’t have been any more wrong if you’d tried to.

        Stop drinking the haterade!

        1. LOL! Chill PM and get down off your soapbox :-)

          I’ve got no agenda, not against Peter Windsor, USF1 or even the US itself… or for that matter against anything or anyone. I am more than excited to see them, and all the other teams, on the grid in Bahrain and throughout the season and will be rooting for all the new teams to score a few points here or there. I don’t believe there is a team on the grid I will not be happy to see doing well this year. I have my favourites sure, but I don’t wish ill on any of the teams, quite the contrary.

    4. I think the position at Renault is heavily influenced by the outcome of crashgate and the team’s new structure.

      Had Renault pulled out of F1 in the wake of crashgate it would have been in total and utter disgrace. Whatever the real reason for a withdrawal at that point (lack of success in a difficult economic climate, for example) everyone would have remembered Renault leaving with its tail firmly between its legs. The FIA would certainly not have pulled its punches.

      But, at a time when most other manufacturers were leaving F1, Renault was able to minimise the damage to its reputation (and possibly minimise its punishment too) by pledging to continue in F1. But the parent company wants out in the near future – Renault sales are suffering just as much as anyone else’s. It is getting increasingly difficult to justify significant investment for little return.

      So Renault sold a large stake in the team to Genii. The team will probably be run as Renault for the next couple of years before the parent company bows out gracefully and the team is rebranded. It’s a way of Renault scaling down its involvement in F1 ahead of a pullout without doing so immediately.

      In the wake of these changes, the team needs to make up for the loss of investment from the parent company. Getting $15m from Petrov instead of paying Heidfeld $5m is a difference of $20m – this time last year it might not have been an issue, but Renault in 2010 is a very different team to 12 months ago.

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        31st January 2010, 10:24

        Actually, I think the Genii deal has been worked in such a way that Renault can delay a decision on its future. They can see how things play out post-recessions, and if it’s favourable, re-take control of the team. If not they can sell it on.

  14. That’s end of the road for Nick,I think he is with Mercedes as their test driver?What about Romain I don’t think he did that bad a job on 2009,shouldn’t he get another chance?

    1. I think Grosjean is sene by many people as a leftover from the days of Briatore- after he declined (in my view) in GP2 last season, I doubt he would have gotten a shot with anyone anytime soon if Piquet wasen’t dumped. As for his future, I have no idea where he wil be headed, although since he had the best helmet on the grid last seaosn in my opinion, I hope he finds a seat somewhere.

  15. Polish is kind of slavic language. Know, couse I’m a Pole. . . :-) According to Pietrow, he has Gazprom’s money. This corporation delivers 100% of gas to Poland. Hope that russian govermant will treat sport only as sport. Otherwise a lot of polish ppl will disturb abt their’s heating. . .1 thing Poland is located in central Europe but yeah we are eastern board of EU. Greetings from snowy country!

  16. Well, nationality is not important as long F1 has goos drivers!
    I have followed Petrov career in GP2 and i must say, he impreseed me for several ocassions, so i wish him good duels at the track.
    F1 is racing guys, so lets race and that the best wins!

  17. Prisoner Monkeys
    31st January 2010, 12:14

    Petrov has apparently been spotted in Valencia.

  18. not including vettel, but redbull is all aus/nz, so is this the making of the pacific team?

  19. Autosport says he’s confirmed and has a picture of the car. The new livery is what we’ve been hoping for, but the car looks like last years with a shark-fin added, which isn’t too comforting, looks much less aerodynamically exciting than the Mclaren and Sauber.

    1. Actually, I just checked and I’m pretty sure it’s just a repainted R29, like the Mercedes Launch car.

      1. Its clearly a different car from all perspectives Wificats.

        Obviously it was redesigned as all the cars have been to accomodate a larger fuel tank; this aside, the front wing, side mirrors integrated and differences to the shark fin all are clearly present on this completely new car.

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