Vitaly Petrov insists he never gave up hope of securing a place on the grid for the 2012 F1 season, despite the late nature of his departure from the Lotus team last season.
Petrov found himself out of a drive when the former Renault team elected to go with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean for the 2012 season, with few options remaining to allow the Russian to stay on the grid.
A late deal with Caterham – after plenty of speculation - saw Petrov replace Jarno Trulli for the year ahead and he admitted it was a relief to have been able to secure a place on the grid.
“It was obviously a pretty tough winter,” he told the official F1 website. “It would be the same for anyone who wasn't sure what their job would be in the New Year. But even though it was difficult at times, I never lost the belief that it would come good and that's what has happened.
“As soon as we knew the situation with Renault we started working on a solution. And Caterham were always the best option, and the one that I saw most potential in, so it's been really good to get the situation sorted out. I'm not so much relieved but happy to be in my new team.”
Having spent two seasons with Renault, Petrov said he was sure he would be able to help Caterham move forwards.
“There are a few obvious things, like the fact I've used KERS last year and I have been with a bigger team,” he said. “I know how they work and can help see areas where Caterham can grow.
“I know that I have developed a lot over the last two years and my first podium last year was another big step for me. So I think the team knows they have someone who can grow with them and help them develop. I think it's the chance to grow. Things at Renault were sometimes great and sometimes tricky, and even though they have a great past and a lot of history, Caterham is growing quickly and wants to make its own stories, so the chance to be part of that feels good.”
The Russian added that he was hopeful about the season ahead after his first experience of the CT01, with the aim being to help Caterham move forwards up the grid.
“I think the team has made a huge step forward from the first test to now - and the CT01 has shown good consistency, which is a valuable asset to build on,” he said. “This makes me pretty optimistic for Melbourne - as does the fact that we have never been more than about 0.5 seconds off the fastest time.
“The team is being pretty cautious about what we want to do this year, so I think the main thing for me is to do the best I can and help them fight a couple of the teams in front.”