Vitaly Petrov insists he will ‘rise to the challenge’ in 2011

Russian targets improvement next season after signing new two-year deal with Lotus Renault

By Gareth Llewellyn
vitaly petrov
(Photo: Gregory Moine)

vitaly petrov

Vitaly Petrov has been confirmed as Lotus Renault’s second driver for another season after agreeing a new two-year deal until 2012.

Renault had demanded that Petrov would need to show more commitment and consistency if he was to remain with the team for a second year, but with an influx of Russian sponsors to the team it always seemed likely he would be retained when a press conference in Moscow was announced last week.

While Petrov showed moments of promise in 2010 it was a disappointing season for the rookie when stacked up against more experienced team-mate Robert Kubica.

Kubica returned 136 points to Petrov’s 27 from 19 races, finishing second in Australia and third in Monaco and Belgium. Petrov on the other hand had just five points-paying finishes, with some very costly collisions along the way.

His best performances came in Hungary and the final event in Abu Dhabi where he held off championship contender Fernando Alonso for much of the race.

“We are very pleased to confirm that Vitaly will be staying with us for 2011 and 2012, in order that both he and the team can build on a promising 2010 campaign,” said Renault team boss Eric Boullier.

“The entire team has been working flat-out over the past months to improve our competitiveness, and a stable driver line-up is essential to achieving our targets

“Robert Kubica provides a remarkable benchmark for both speed and consistency, and we are certain that Vitaly will move closer to this level of performance next year.”

Team chairman Gerard Lopez said: “Last season, he showed on several occasions that he clearly has the potential to deliver. It was just a matter of putting everything together during the same weekend, race after race, and this will be his target for 2011.

“Also, thanks to Vitaly and the team, Russia is opening up to Formula 1. Over the past few months, we’ve established close links with this country and with some of its strongest companies.

“We’re looking forward to building on this special relationship and turning it into a very successful adventure over the next two seasons.”

Renault were comfortably fifth in the constructors’ championship in 2010 with 163 points -almost 100 ahead of Williams -but 51 points behind fourth-placed Mercedes, and the team will now expect Petrov to deliver the points he failed to achieve in 2010.

“I am very happy to continue with the team and proud to be representing Lotus Renault GP for the 2011 and 2012 seasons,” Petrov said.

“I learned a lot about the sport, the circuits and the car this year. That will help me improve even more in the future. I am very excited about working with this great team once more, and I’m confident that I will deliver.

“In many ways, 2010 was about learning. 2011 will be about performing. Today, I feel I am ready to rise to this challenge.”

Just six race seats remain available for the 2011 season with Renault’s drivers now confirmed after Virgin Racing confirming the signing of Jerôme d’Ambrosio to partner Timo Glock.

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