- © AFP 2013/ Dimitar Dilkoff
© AFP 2013/ Dimitar Dilkoff
VOLOKOLAMSK, Russia, August 4 (R-Sport) - Russia’s only Formula One driver to date, Vitaly Petrov, threw down the gauntlet to the Russian-owned Marussia team Sunday – prove you’re good enough for me.
Petrov is without a drive this year and a partnership with Marussia has long been mooted in the media as a natural fit, especially as Russia debuts on the F1 calendar next year.
Marussia have not earned a single point since they joined F1 in 2010 as Virgin Racing, something Petrov suggested was unacceptable.
“I need to understand their plans, what they want and how they want to be in F1 – just to have a car and drive or they want to grow up,” he said, adding he was prepared to “sit down” for talks with Marussia management.
Last month, Marussia’s chief executive Andy Webb said Petrov was the only Russian driver with the skills required to race in F1. Petrov has said he has spoken to “several” unnamed teams.
As the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi grows closer, the country’s links to F1 are multiplying, and Petrov said that gave him a new edge in negotiations with teams.
“I think definitely it helps, because it can’t be the Russian Grand Prix without Russian drivers, you know,” he said, adding that the race’s organizers were working on his behalf. “Maybe it will motivate some people to support me.”
“Even the racetrack itself, they are helping quite a lot because they are talking with people. We are working together to find a seat for next year.”
Another Russian is set to debut in F1 next year. Financially-stricken Sauber was given support from three Russian organizations last month, as a result of which 17-year-old Sergei Sirotkin is on track for a race seat in 2014.
Asked whether the Russian investors could also put him in a Sauber for next season, Petrov said this was not currently being discussed.
“We will see later, I think,” he said. “We didn’t talk precisely for me to be together with them in Sauber. Maybe later on. For now it’s the summer break.”
Also Saturday, Petrov suggested he could receive some support from Mercedes, who will supply engines to at least three other teams next year.
Petrov entered F1 with the Renault team in 2010 and stayed with the outfit when it became Lotus Renault in 2011, the season when he achieved his best world championship finish of 10th.
Last year saw Petrov fail to earn any points, although his 11th place finish at the last race in Brazil ensured Caterham took 10th place in the constructors’ championship and a large slice of resulting prize money.
His only podium finish was third at the 2011 Australian Grand Prix.