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The Inside Line - on Caterham's Vitaly Petrov 29 May 2012

Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 12 May 2012 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham CT01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 26 May 2012 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 26 May 2012 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 12 May 2012 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham.
Nazionale Piloti Football Match, Louis II Stadium, Monaco, Tuesday, 22 May 2012 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham CT01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012

Caterham’s Vitaly Petrov may have only been around the paddock for the last three years, but the first Formula One driver to hail from Russia has already competed for two teams, scored 64 world championship points and clinched a podium finish. We caught up with the 27 year-old, delved a little deeper than his statistics and came up with some very interesting insights, not least his yearning for a pet tiger, his love of Iberico ham and his tendency to be somewhat lazy…

Q: What’s been your most valuable ‘life’ lesson?
Vitaly Petrov:
Every single day I learn something new about life. I meet people all the time who tell me things or show me something that can help me improve, even in a small way. One thing a friend has told me a few times is to make sure that whenever you look in the mirror, don’t think ‘how good am I?’ but think ‘how can I be better?’. That’s pretty important - making sure you don’t settle.

Q: If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
VP:
Don’t be lazy. I would also ask my family to push me even more to work hard at school and to learn as much as I could.

Q: If your racing career ended after this season, what would you do with the rest of your life?
VP:
That’s a difficult question now because I want to stay in F1 as long as I can and I don’t really want to think about what will come afterwards. Having said that, I have a lot of ideas about what I could do. My father’s business is interesting, he does a lot of different things and it would be good to work with him.

Q: If you had to stay in one place for the rest of your life, where would it be?
VP:
Another difficult question. I obviously love Russia - the forests and the cities. It’s my home and I’m very proud to come from Russia. But sometimes it’s good to get some hot sun. Spain’s great and actually I love England too. Except the rubbish weather!

Q: What animal best reflects your personality?
VP:
I’m not too sure which animal best reflects my personality but I like almost all animals. Dogs and cats obviously, but if I had a big house I’d like to have a lion or a tiger, or maybe a bear but that might be a bit too dangerous. As I said, I like pretty much all animals but not snakes. I hate snakes. I really hate snakes. I even hate talking about snakes!

Q: What is more important in life than winning?
VP:
Making sure my parents and friends are happy and healthy.

Q: When were you happiest?
VP:
On track I’m happiest, especially after a good qualifying or a good race. But I think it’s also important to be happy away from the track. Everything needs to be working well off-track, as if there’s something bad going on with friends or family it distracts you from racing and that’s not good.

Q: If you could banish one thing from your life - for the rest of your life - what would that be?
VP:
Laziness.

Q: How does it feel to be considered a hero?
VP:
I understand that people might think a world champion is a hero - the guy who’s won everything or done the best job - but for me I haven’t won a championship yet. I’ve done a few things well but I haven’t done anything yet that would make me really special.

Q: What is your greatest weakness?
VP:
Sometimes I’m a bit too stressed. Maybe I’m a bit on the limit too often.

Q: What’s your ultimate comfort food?
VP:
Of course I love Russian food - soups, salads and things - but I love sushi as well and Italian food. I really love Spanish ham - jamon iberico - and paella too.

Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home after a race?
VP:
See my family and catch up with them. Then maybe I will see my friends to play football or poker.

Q: What, or who, do you admire?
VP:
I admire a lot of cool sportsmen and athletes - Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, those sorts of guys. I can learn a lot from them. I also admire the drivers I’m competing against today. Anyone who I can learn something from is someone I admire.

Q: What’s your favourite smell?
VP:
Ha! Some perfume maybe - it depends what woman it is on! (laughs)

Q: Are you the man you always thought you would become?
VP:
I never thought I’d become a Formula One racing driver. When I was learning to be a racer, I was just concentrating on improving every day and then, when someone showed me F1, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I’m obviously happy I am where I wanted to get to, but there’s a lot more to come.

Q: What tastes like home?
VP:
When I make my own food I’m sort of back home. I like cooking. I live alone so I do a lot of cooking and I can prepare pretty much anything I want to eat, so that’s a good way of being able to eat things that remind me of home.

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