Vitaly Petrov's uncertain future with the Lotus Renault GP team could be resolved by a move to Marussia Virgin for 2012, according to sources in Russia.
The second-year driver started 2011 strongly, with a maiden podium in the season-opener in Australia, but his form faded along with the R31's performance and, despite claiming a final point at Interlagos, his position in a team with no shortage of targets to partner new signing Kimi Raikkonen is far from secure, despite a contract already being in place for next year.
Petrov's standing in the Lotus Renault camp was weakened somewhat when he launched an ill-judged outburst against its tactics and performance in the Russian media, and that same source is now suggesting that the former GP2 Series runner-up could be the subject of a swap deal that would add Timo Glock to the list of drivers in the frame for a seat in 2012.
Exactly how the deal would work - unless former Renault target Glock was assured of jumping Bruno Senna, Romain Grosjean, Adrian Sutil and Rubens Barrichello on the list of contenders for the second seat - is unclear, although the logic of Petrov joining the Russian-owned Marussia Virgin squad is plain to see.
has repeated French media claims that Grosjean - a favourite of LRGP team boss Eric Boullier - remains the favourite to partner Raikkonen, despite taking the opportunity to test a DTM car as a fallback should his return not come to fruition, but also suggests that Petrov's move to Marussia Virgin would see Glock heading the opposite direction. The German, however, recently signed a 'long-term' deal with John Booth's squad and would not readily give up a spot on the grid, however lowly, unless he had guarantees of another.
French rookie Charles Pic was confirmed as Glock's 2012 team-mate shortly after the chequered flag fell on the Brazilian Grand Prix, and has already said that his aim for year one is to match the German's performance in much the way as 2011 partner Jerome d'Ambrosio did.
According to French sports daily l'Equipe
, former F1 racewinner Olivier Panis believes Pic's graduation with Marussia Virgin is the ideal baptism in the top flight.
“I have known him since he was very young,” Panis, who manages the 2012 GP2 racewinner, explained, “and it means a little less pressure for him to start with. We had two options and, for me, Marussia made the most sense. [Fernando] Alonso started at Minardi, [Sebastian] Vettel at Toro Rosso, I started at Ligier, [Ayrton] Senna started at Toleman. There are only 24 F1 drivers in the whole world and so, when you have the opportunity to do it, you do not pass it up."