Monied Russian talent Vitaly Petrov has emerged as the new favourite to land the second seat at Renault's Formula One team for 2010, despite the presence of two fellow GP2 drivers under the management of new owner Genii Capital.
Petrov, who finished as runner-up to new Williams
driver Nico Hulkenberg
in last season's GP2 Series, had been linked to the nascent Campos Meta team - having raced for both Adrian Campos and 2009 team owner Alejandro Agag under the Addax banner - but now appears most likely to join Robert Kubica
at Enstone. French motor magazine Auto Hebdo
claimed this week that the Russian would be confirmed as the team's number two at the launch of the R30 in Valencia this Sunday, ahead of next week's first pre-season group test.
Whilst Petrov's position, which is expected to be backed by several major Russian companies, appears solid, Genii's Gravity Sport client Ho-Pin Tung insists that he had not ruled out a chance of becoming the first driver with Chinese ancestors to make it into F1. The 27-year-old Dutch-born driver told gpupdate.net
that he was still awaiting confirmation of his role from Renault.
“Test driver would be nice, of course, but being one of the team's race drivers is obviously better,” he teased, “We must wait but, hopefully, we'll be able to announce something soon.”Auto Hebdo
, however, is among those claiming that Tung, along with Belgium's Jerome d'Ambrosio - another Gravity-managed pilot - will share the test and reserve driver duties at Enstone next season - a rumour that should be substantiated when Renault
unveils what the R30 - complete with what is expected to be a return to the marque's familiar yellow-and-black colours of the 1980s - at the weekend.