Vitaly Petrov says he is delighted to have found a berth on this year's F1 grid, admitting that it had been a long wait before anything could be confirmed.
The Russian, who was dropped by the Lotus Renault team at the end of 2011, had been linked with several teams, and also with tyre supplier Pirelli, before finally being confirmed as Jarno Trulli's replacement at Caterham. While his manager continually hinted at various outcomes to the riddle of where her client may appear, Petrov kept his counsel, but admits that it was hard to see the weeks go by without a deal being confirmed.
"The winter was quite difficult for me," he told Sky Sports
, "It was a long winter, [as] I was waiting three months before announcing what I will do in the future. Now I am much more happy."
Having missed the opening test of the pre-season at Jerez, Petrov will hope to make up for lost time when he joins new team-mate Heikki Kovalainen in Barcelona for this week's four-day session.
"We have a very short time to prepare for the next test in Barcelona and I need still to analyse what the team did last week in Jerez," he admitted, "I'm ready to work."
Although he recorded his first podium and contributed equally to Lotus Renault's constructors' championship tally last season, Petrov accepts that he still needs to establish himself in F1, but insists that Caterham will provide an ideal platform with which to build a reputation.
"I will improve with a new team like Caterham," he noted, "They have a big future and, as you saw in the last two years, they are improving every year. They have KERS [in 2012] and, in August, will move to a new factory. I like what they are doing and I like to be part of this team. [It] looks really strong and [has] a big ambition for the future.
"I like the way the people are working inside this team. You can see they want to win - they want to come and be top ten guys - and they do everything [to] improve the car."
Of course, Petrov is realistic enough to accept that joining Caterham is unlikely to provide a repeat of the podium he claimed in last season's opening round in Melbourne, but hopes that the team, which has spent the past two years putting distance between itself and fellow 2010 newcomers Marussia and HRT, can begin to threaten for points.
"My best memory is, of course, my podium, [but] now we come with Caterham for the first grand prix and will try to show from the beginning of the year a good result," he concluded.