Exclusive Vitaly Petrov Q&A: Caterham and I can grow together 07 Mar 2012
Caterham team principal Tony Fernandes must be pretty pleased with how new employee Vitaly Petrov is faring in his new job. After replacing Jarno Trulli at the last minute, the Russian former Renault driver has demonstrated that its still possible to perform well during pre-season tests, despite an unfamiliar car. Petrov reflects on his uncertain winter and discusses his hopes for 2012
Q: Vitaly, you were almost left without a seat this season. How relieved were you that you made it in at the last minute?
Vitaly Petrov: It was obviously a pretty tough winter. It would be the same for anyone who wasnt sure what their job would be in the New Year. But even though it was difficult at times, I never lost the belief that it would come good and thats what has happened. As soon as we knew the situation with Renault we started working on a solution. And Caterham were always the best option, and the one that I saw most potential in, so its been really good to get the situation sorted out. Im not so much relieved but happy to be in my new team.
Q: When did Renault (now known as Lotus) let you know they didnt require your services in 2012?
VP: I was told for sure in December.
Q: The inaugural Russian Grand Prix is expected in 2014. Surely its only logical that it will feature a Russian driver
VP: I think its impossible to have a Russian GP without a Russian driver! It is one of the biggest motivations for me - to make sure Im on the grid in 2014. It must be the same for any athlete in any sport. To be able to compete at home means everything to you and its important to me that Im there and in a car that I can really compete in.
Q: Returning to Caterham, why do you think they chose you and not Jarno Trulli?
VP: Thats something youd have to ask the team I think. I know that I have developed a lot over the last two years and my first podium last year was another big step for me. So I think the team knows they have someone who can grow with them and help them develop.
Q: And what do you think you will bring to the table?
VP: There are a few obvious things, like the fact Ive used KERS last year and I have been with a bigger team. I know how they work and can help see areas where Caterham can grow.
Q: What appeals to you most about Caterham?
VP: I know Ive said it before, but I think its the chance to grow. Things at Renault were sometimes great and sometimes tricky, and even though they have a great past and a lot of history, Caterham is growing quickly and wants to make its own stories, so the chance to be part of that feels good.
Q: What about the car? The Renault at the end of last season was a tricky workplace. How does the CT01 compare?
VP: Apart from the Renault engine its totally different. The whole car feels different and one of the main tasks for me is to change my driving style to get the most out of it. I think I need to be less aggressive with this car than last year, so thats something Ive been working on with my engineer.
Q: Youve taken part in only two of the three pre-season test sessions. Will that affect you? Have you been satisfied with the running you have had?
VP: I think the team has made a huge step forward from the first test to now - and the CT01 has shown good consistency, which is a valuable asset to build on. This makes me pretty optimistic for Melbourne - as does the fact that we have never been more than about 0.5 seconds off the fastest time.
Q: This year you will have to fight your way back into the midfield again. What are your expectations?
VP: I think its still too early to tell. The team is being pretty cautious about what we want to do this year, so I think the main thing for me is to do the best I can and help them fight a couple of the teams in front.
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