Having seemed set to quit F1 for good at the end of the 2012 campaign, Vitaly Petrov now looks likely to remain at Caterham for a second season.
With a lack of backing from Russia – despite F1 expecting to add a grand prix in the country next year – Petrov's manager claimed that there was no way her charge could remain in the top flight, but the situation appears to have changed since the former Renault driver made the move on Charles Pic that snatched tenth place in the constructors' championship back from Marussia at Interlagos.
Not only did the pass ensure that the Leafield equipe
banked valuable prize money, but also appears to have convinced Caterham that Petrov is the man to lead the team in 2013.
According to Finland's Turun Sanomat
, an announcement confirming Petrov's return could be made this week, after Caterham took longer than expected to rule out rivals for the drive. Both Bruno Senna and GP2 ace Luiz Razia were apparently in the frame, and could bring useful sponsorship, for 2013, but Petrov's experience – vital for a team with second-year pilot Pic in the other seat - was said to outweigh that of the two Brazilians.
The report claims, however, that the deal will not be concluded until 'required sponsorship money has been paid into the team's account', which could yet open the door for Senna and Razia.
The report clearly underlines the value of sponsorship to Caterham as re-signing Petrov on the basis of 'experience' would consign 2012 team-mate – and team veteran – Heikki Kovalainen to the F1 scrapheap, the Finn having instructed his management not
to seek financial backing as he had no desire to join the ranks of 'pay drivers' just to extend his seven-year run in the top flight.