Vitaly Petrov has joined Caterham F1 as a race driver, raplacing Jarno Trulli. Petrov will race alongside Heikki Kovalainen in 2012.
Petrov, Formula One’s first Russian driver, became available when his contract with Lotus (last year’s Renault) was terminated early. With a podium in Australia in 2011, Petrov has shown promise as a Formula One driver. He has spent two years with the Renault team, and now takes that experience with him to Caterham.
Vitaly Petrov: “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.”
Trulli is now without a drive for 2012. All of the race seats have been filled for this season, and so it seems as if Trulli may be staring in the face of early retirement. He is extremely experienced, and is known for his pace in the car, so he may be in demand as a test driver.
Trulli departs from Caterham by agreement with the team. He commented: “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.”
Petrov will be in action at the second pre-season test in Barcelona, which starts on Tuesday.