Aware of the rumours that as many as seven other drives are queuing up to replace him as Robert Kubica's team-mate next season, Vitaly Petrov has set his sights on being as close to the Pole as possible in this weekend's German Grand Prix.

Although he insists that next season's plans are 'in hand', the Russian rookie is keen to prove to Renault - and other potential suitors - that he has what it takes to deserve a second campaign in the top flight, after just one scoring finish in ten races that sees him trail his team-mate by a massive 77 points. With no guarantee that his Russian backing will be enough to keep him at Enstone, amid rumours that MasterCard could sponsor the team and provide enough capital to take on a bigger name in 2011, Petrov has set himself some clear goals for the weekend ahead.

"As always, the first target is to be close to Robert's pace," he admitted, "Then I need to qualify in the top ten and finish the race. I think that qualifying is my number one priority for the weekend because we know how it important it is for the outcome of the race.

"I think that the information and feedback I give the team is something very important. When we have a new upgrade, we need to have a good understanding of how it works and how it improves the car, and it's down to me to give the team the right information. Being accurate with my feedback is also important for improving the set-up and getting the most from the car, so this is where I am working hard."

After a frustrating British Grand Prix, where points were again dangled tantalisingly in front of him, the 'Vyborg Rocket' is looking for a strong Hockenheim showing - on a circuit he is familiar with - to strengthen the bonds he is already forming with Renault.

"I enjoyed the [Silverstone] race but, of course, I was disappointed with the outcome," he admitted, "I was almost in the points when I had some bad luck with the puncture, so we could have got a much better result. But what is done is done, and it was still good to finish all 52 laps of the race. This gives us lots of information about the car and the track, which was especially important with Robert's race ending early.

"I know the [Hockenheim] circuit because I've raced there before, in GP2. It's quite a difficult track and there is usually close racing, so you need to be quite tactical with your driving. There are some corners where you can overtake, like the hairpin at the end of the long back straight, and, overall, I think it should be a good circuit for our car.

"I'm looking forward to the rest of the season and using the experience that I have gained so far. I know that I still need to improve, but I'm doing my best to work more closely with the team - and Robert - to improve the car. I feel that I have a really good relationship with the team and we know each other pretty well by now. We spend a lot of time together, we go to dinner together and I spend a lot of time at the factory. Being very close with them will help me get the most from every weekend."



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