While most of the speculation surrounding next year's Caterham F1 line-up has focused on Heikki Kovalainen, it would appear that there is also a degree of uncertainty involving the Finn's Russian team-mate Vitaly Petrov.
Despite having previously been both linked with rival teams [see separate story
] and expressing no concern about his position with the now Leafield-based team over the past few weeks [see separate story
quotes Petrov's manager as saying that he may be forced to give up on his F1 dream completely.
"If the presence of a Russian driver in F1 will be interesting to no one but Vitaly Petrov and Oksana Kosachenko, we'll find what to do outside grand prix racing,” Kosachenko said, “F1 is great - and very prestigious - but, for Vitaly, it's a job that brings no money. Why? There are many reasons but, in Russia, where it's already difficult to 'sell' an athlete, it is almost impossible to 'sell' an F1 driver."
Petrov has just one podium finish from his short F1 career, despite having spent a year with the burgeoning Lotus Renault team prior to joining Caterham for 2012, and the 27-year old has generally been out-performed by Kovalainen this season, although neither driver has yet managed to break Caterham's duck as it attempts to close the gap on the midfield teams. With the Finn having been linked to a move away from Tony Fernandes' team in order to re-establish himself as a potential frontrunner, Petrov had been considered the continuity the team would look for in 2013, but has yet to bring a major sponsor to support his role.
Both Petrov and Kovalainen head to Belgium this weekend, as the F1 season resumes at Spa-Francorchamps after nearly five weeks of inactivity, and the Russian is focused on improving Caterham's position relative to the cars ahead.
“It's been a good break, but I can't wait to get back to racing," he admitted, “The whole team is heading to Spa in a very good mood. The factory move was done without any problems during the break and that puts us in a great position to keep fighting for the second half of the season. We may not have achieved what we set out to so far this season, but we're getting there and, with Leafield now up and running, we have everything in place to bridge the gap to the cars ahead.”
Like many of his fellow drivers, the Belgian Grand Prix is a highlight of the season for Petrov.
"Spa's the perfect place for the season to start again as it is one of the great tracks we race on," he explained, "It's always a real pleasure to go back to Belgium and, for the drivers, the circuit itself gives us one of the best challenges of the season. Driving an F1 car around there flat out is a very special feeling as it has everything you want - really quick corners like Blanchimont, where you can feel the downforce pushing the car into the track, and elevation changes, Eau Rouge for example, where you need to have the right set-up to make sure you can really push in, through and out of each corner. [The circuit also has] massive history. There are so many stories about previous races and what the place was like back in the old days when it was much longer, you can't help but feel how special it is."