The Inside Line - on Caterhams Vitaly Petrov 29 May 2012
Caterhams 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: Whats 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, dont think how good am I? but think how can I be better?. Thats pretty important - making sure you dont settle.
Q: If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
VP: Dont 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: Thats a difficult question now because I want to stay in F1 as long as I can and I dont really want to think about what will come afterwards. Having said that, I have a lot of ideas about what I could do. My fathers 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. Its my home and Im very proud to come from Russia. But sometimes its good to get some hot sun. Spains great and actually I love England too. Except the rubbish weather!
Q: What animal best reflects your personality?
VP: Im 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 Id 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 Im happiest, especially after a good qualifying or a good race. But I think its also important to be happy away from the track. Everything needs to be working well off-track, as if theres something bad going on with friends or family it distracts you from racing and thats not good.
Q: If you could banish one thing from your life - for the rest of your life - what would that be?
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 whos won everything or done the best job - but for me I havent won a championship yet. Ive done a few things well but I havent done anything yet that would make me really special.
Q: What is your greatest weakness?
VP: Sometimes Im a bit too stressed. Maybe Im a bit on the limit too often.
Q: Whats 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: Whats 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 Im competing against today. Anyone who I can learn something from is someone I admire.
Q: Whats 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 Id 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 thats what I wanted to do. Im obviously happy I am where I wanted to get to, but theres a lot more to come.
Q: What tastes like home?
VP: When I make my own food Im 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 thats a good way of being able to eat things that remind me of home.
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