Vitaly Petrov has claimed that he will do his utmost to show why the rebranded Lotus Renault team decided to take up the option that existed on his services after a hit-and-miss debut season in F1.

The Russian, whose attraction obviously extends beyond his abilities on the racetrack, finished 13th overall in the 2010 standings but starred on occasion, not least in racing world championship contender Fernando Alonso to the finish in Abu Dhabi, potentially denying the Spaniard a third title. In between his solid point-scoring appearances, however, the 2009 GP2 Series runner-up displayed a propensity for finding the scenery, with his imperfect record casting doubt over his continued relationship with the Renault team.

Despite the 's tie-up with Lotus, however, Petrov has now been confirmed for a second season - and, indeed, potentially a third after inking a two-year contract - and is keen to show what he is capable of in an unchanged line-up alongside comparative veteran Robert Kubica in 2011.

"It feels great," he admitted, having finally been able to reveal his future, "I learned so much this year and I know that I can come back stronger in 2011. I'm extremely proud to be part of this team and I'm determined to repay the faith they have shown in me.

"Previous drivers have always said that there is a special atmosphere here and I have to say I agree with them. The team is very warm, friendly and open, and I get on
really well with the guys. There were a lot of special moments [in 2010]. The race in Shanghai is something that I will always remember - when I overtook [Michael] Schumacher and [Mark] Webber to score my first points. Then, the first time I made Q3 in Turkey was an important step for me. And, of course, the race in Hungary was probably my best weekend, when everything came together for me....."

With a Russian Grand Prix on the horizon, Petrov's continued participation is seen as vital for the sport - despite the growing claims of World Series by Renault champion Mikhail Aleshin and F2 frontrunner Sergey Afanasiev - and the 26-year old admits that the pressure will still be apparent in his second season.

"I get more support from my country every week - in fact, recently one of the major lifestyle magazines included me in their top ten most attractive single men of Russia!" he joked, "You can feel that the sport is becoming more popular and soon we will have our own grand prix, which will create more interest. Even our prime minister, Mr Putin, got a taste of F1 when he tried a Renault F1 car earlier this year.

"However, there are quite a few changes that we have to adapt to as a team [in 2011] - new tyres, moveable rear wings and KERS, which I've never used before. There's even a new race in India. So there are some things to adapt to, but they should improve the show and make for better racing. I've already seen the new car in the wind tunnel and it looks very promising. I also love our new colours and can't wait to get back in the car and go racing.

"My objective is to continue improving as a driver and to become more consistent. There were times this year when I made mistakes and lost points, and I know this is where I can improve. I think I showed that I have the speed, but I need to be consistent over the whole weekend and get the maximum from every session."

With no testing possible for another six weeks, Petrov intends to wind down over the festive period before ramping up his preparation so that he is ready to make the most of the pre-season.

"I was thinking about spending a few days in Maranello this winter, but I have been told it probably wasn't the best idea...," he laughed, referring to his Yas Marina run-in with Alonso, "Seriously, after a busy year I'm taking the time to go back home and see my family and friends. It's also the time to recharge my batteries so that I can
come back fresh next year.

"I'm already working hard on my fitness and doing lots of training to be ready for the start of the season. Then, in January, I will be at the factory to see my engineers and for my seat-fit in the new car. There's a lot more travelling and not a lot of time for myself, but I will never complain because I love what I'm doing.

"I still feel like a boy at Christmas every time I get in the car. Life is not as easy as people think, of course , and there's a lot more to F1 than driving the car, but it's an amazing experience and I know I'm lucky to be one of just 24 drivers on the grid."



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