Vitaly Petrov insists that he has no news regarding his attempts to remain in F1 this season, despite the rumour mill linking him to a possible role with tyre supplier Pirelli.
The Russian's presence at this week's tyre launch was enough for some to put two and two together and claim that he was set to become the company's next development driver - a role currently filled by Virgin Racing reject Lucas di Grassi. The speculation was reinforced by comments from Petrov's manager, Oksana Kosachenko, but neither the driver nor Pirelli's Paul Hembery could shed any light on the suggestions.
The Russian spent the first two years of his F1 career with the Renault/Lotus Renault team, but was dropped in favour of GP2 Series champion Romain Grosjean ahead of the 2012 campaign. He has since been linked with a number of seats, including the vacancies at Williams and HRT and those currently occupied by Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock at Caterham and Marussia respectively, but would not turn down the option of a reserve role if it kept him actively involved in the sport.
“I want to stay in F1 because, if I lose one year, then it will be very difficult to come back and take some places for 2013," he told Reuters
at the Pirelli unveiling, "It is important to stay, [but] if I said something it will be made into lots [of different things], I cannot say anything about what I will do this year. Please wait a little bit, another week. I want to say something, but I can't say at the moment."
The Pirelli rumour refuses to die, however, forcing Petrov to reveal a little more about another event the two parties will do together.
“They asked me to come and be part of this event, so I drive some cars and talk to some people and work with them," he confirmed, “Now, in Russia, Pirelli is working quite close and maybe in the future we can do some good deals. Maybe I will not test Pirelli but maybe we can work together in different parts.”
Petrov's experience of life at the wheel of a 2011-spec car would be of particular use to Pirelli should the company succeed in landing such a machine to help continue its development programme. It has been using a 2009-spec Toyota TF109 to this point, with Nick Heidfeld, Pedro de la Rosa, Grosjean and, most recently, di Grassi doing the driving but this has now been returned to Toyota's Cologne headquarters, reinforcing Hembery's claim that there is no testing currently underway.
In a bid to address the situation, the Briton is expected to hold talks with the F1 Commission to see if he can obtain a 2011 car.
"We don't have an agreement yet," he was quoted as telling Finland's Turun Sanomat
newspaper, "We do simulation, but to do the kind of development we need to do, we also need to drive quickly on a track."