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Petrov replaces Trulli at Caterham for 2012 17 Feb 2012

Vitaly Petrov joins the Caterham F1 Team, February 17, 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday, 8 February 2012 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Lotus Renault GP.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, 24 November 2011 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Caterham.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Jerez, Spain, Thursday, 9 February 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Jerez, Spain, Thursday, 9 February 2012 Caterham CT01 nose detail.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Caterham have announced that Vitaly Petrov will race for the team in 2012, replacing Jarno Trulli with immediate effect. Petrov attended a seat fitting at their UK factory in Hingham on Friday morning and will make his debut in the CT01 at next week’s second pre-season test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, alongside new team mate Heikki Kovalainen.

“This is a very exciting day for me,” said the Russian. “I would like to thank Tony (Fernandes), Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin for giving me the chance to join a team that made its F1 debut at the same time as me, and has grown from one of the new teams to a serious force for future honours. The passion and spirit that Tony and the whole team have to keep moving forwards is infectious, and I am honoured to be able to join them and play my part in helping the team mount a serious challenge to the teams ahead in 2012 and for many seasons to come.

“I have been training hard all winter and am ready to get back into the cockpit and go to work. From what I have seen already, our new car is another good step forward from 2011 and now I cannot wait to see how it feels when we get to Barcelona. I would also like to take this chance to thank all my fans and partners for their support and their patience.”

Petrov began his Formula One race career with Renault in 2010 and finished 10th in the 2011 championship, after securing a podium finish in Australia. He was runner-up in the 2009 GP2 Series after spells in GP2 Asia, F3000, Formula Master and the Le Mans Series.

“We are all delighted to welcome Vitaly into our team and are very excited about the role he will play in helping us take the next steps forward in 2012 and for many years to come,” said team principal Tony Fernandes. “When we first met it was immediately clear that Vitaly understands and shares our vision for how we want our team to grow. As the first Russian to race in F1 he carries the hopes of a huge nation with ease and his talents, experience with one of our current competitors and insights on and off track will play a huge role in our development as we fight to join the established teams ahead.”

Petrov’s new role means that Trulli will leave for pastures new after two years with the team and Fernandes paid tribute to the departing 37 year-old, saying: “I want to take this opportunity to thank Jarno for the absolutely pivotal role he played in the formation and progression of our team since he joined us in December 2009. Jarno knew that when he joined us it would be a very different environment to where he had been before, and when we gave him the package he wanted he absolutely shone.

“With that in mind it was not an easy decision to bring Vitaly in to replace Jarno, but it was one we made to ensure that we give fresh impetus across the whole team and with a realistic eye on the global economic market. Jarno has an incredible natural talent behind the wheel, and his winning record and longevity in the sport will bear testament to that talent in the Formula One annals forever, but now it is time to open a new chapter in our team’s story, and Vitaly is the right person to help us do that.

“We have reached agreement with Jarno to bring an end to our partnership with him, but he will always be part of our family. Now we want to integrate Vitaly as quickly as possible into the team, and we will do everything we can to welcome him in, give him a car he can use to showcase his skills, and keep up the rate of development that has seen us go from an empty factory with just four employees to a fully established Formula One team in just over two years.”

Trulli, who drove for the team at last week’s Jerez test, was equally philosophical. “I want to take this chance to thank Tony, Kamarudin, SM Nasarudin, Riad (Asmat), Mike (Gascoyne) and everyone in the team for the two seasons we had together,” he said. “From zero we built up and established a solid F1 team. I'm really proud to have been part of it. I understand the decision the team has made and I want to wish to the whole team the very best of luck for the season ahead.”

The Italian began his Formula One career in 1997 with Minardi and over the next 15 years held tenures at Prost, Jordan, Renault, Toyota and Lotus, which was rebranded as Caterham for 2012. Trulli famously won the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix for Renault, but also amassed 10 podium finishes and 246.5 world championship points.

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