As uncertainty continues to shroud the occupant of the second Renault F1 cockpit in 2011, Vitaly Petrov's manager has stressed that the promising if inconsistent young Russian rookie 'will remain' a feature of the grand prix grid for many years to come.
Whilst Robert Kubica is firmly ensconced at Enstone off the back of a stellar campaign in F1 2010, the identity of the Pole's team-mate next season has been the subject of fevered speculation, with everybody from former world champion-turned-WRC convert Kimi Raikkonen to Adrian Sutil, Timo Glock, Nick Heidfeld and Romain Grosjean having been linked with the team, and no assurances having been offered by management regarding the safety or otherwise of Petrov's seat.
However, following Raikkonen's blunt and somewhat indignant rebuttal of interest earlier this month [see separate story – click here
], it is perceived that the GP2 Series graduate's chances have strengthened, with Sutil understood to be more likely to either stay put at Force India or else take Michael Schumacher's place at Mercedes Grand Prix, and Glock, Heidfeld and Grosjean no longer seriously in the frame.
Whilst Gérard Lopez and Eric Boullier remain occasionally frustrated by Petrov's inability to convert his evident raw pace and potential into solid results from one weekend to the next, the lucrative sponsorship benefits that the 26-year-old is able to offer – particularly with the advent of an inaugural Russian Grand Prix at Sochi from 2014 [see separate story – click here
], and having already attracted backing from the likes of car maker LADA – look likely to ensure the 'Vyborg Rocket' of a stay-of-execution.
“I want to re-assure all the fans, Vitaly will remain in F1 next year, and the year after and three years from now,” his manager Oksana Kosachenko told TV channel Rossiya 2
, albeit stopping short of specifying with which team, whilst Petrov himself has confessed that 'almost all the drivers already have a home race, so I hope that I can experience the same special feeling of racing at home in a few years' time'.
An official announcement regarding Renault's F1 2010 line-up is expected to be made post-season.