A whole host of other drivers might have been linked to his seat in recent weeks, but Vitaly Petrov is presently making all the right moves to secure a stay of execution at Renault F1 into 2011, Eric Boullier has hinted – as long as the Russian rookie continues to improve.
A superb fifth position in last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix – off the back of his best-ever qualifying performance in P7, ahead of highly-regarded, grand prix-winning team-mate Robert Kubica – not only marked Petrov's finest finish in the top flight to-date, but it also made it back-to-back points-scoring results for the under-pressure 'Vyborg Rocket' following on from his tenth place at Hockenheim a week earlier.
Add into the equation seventh spot in the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai back in April, and the well-heeled GP2 Series graduate has climbed up to twelfth in the title standings and established himself as the grid's leading rookie, albeit still 72 points down on Kubica – arguably the driver of the season so far – as Renault endeavours to catch and overhaul nearest rival Mercedes Grand Prix in the constructors' chase.
Petrov's raw inconsistency over the opening half of 2010 has been a cause for concern for Renault – with team principal Boullier openly musing over the 25-year-old's future at the Enstone-based outfit, as speculation grows that should a big-name sponsor come on-board, a big-name driver in the mould of a Kimi Raikkonen, an Adrian Sutil, a Timo Glock or a Nick Heidfeld would likely follow – but the Frenchman has now conceded that if his young charge proves capable of maintaining his current upward momentum, he will have no need to worry.
“It is true that many drivers want to come to us,” Boullier told French publication Auto Hebdo
, “but we do want to give Vitaly the support he needs to fulfil his potential. We are going to wait as long as possible.
“You don't take a decision on one race result, but if he starts to shine like this and scores more precious points, definitely he will seal his future with us soon. I think he is getting closer and faster and starting to gain confidence; he knows he can get into Q3 and can race, and he is learning when to push, for example, when we have to overtake somebody at the pit-stops. He is getting there, clearly.”