Paddock magazine remembers the career of Vitaly Petrov and finds out what is he up to these days.
Unlike most top drivers, Petrov did not begin his career in karting, as there was very little motorsport action where he lived. He began competing in motorsport in 1998 when he took part in rally sprints and ice races. Afterwards, he began competing in the Russian Lada Cup in 2001. He remained in the series for 2002 dominating the championship, winning each round to amass the maximum points total of 500. In 2003, Petrov began racing in the Formula Renault championships. His main campaign was in the Italian Formula Renault Championship for Euronova Racing, finishing 19th overall. During the year he competed in several rounds of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, the Formula Renault 2.0 UK series, and finished fourth in the British Formula Renault Winter Series at the end of the year, taking one win. He also made his debut in Euro Formula 3000 at Cagliari.
Petrov was linked to joining Sauber, Renault F1 and Campos for the 2010 season. He was announced as a Renault driver on 31 January and thus he has become the first Russian driver in the Formula 1 World Championship. He had been signed for a one-year deal, with an option for a further two. He was very close to signing for Campos but he felt Renault was the best option for him.
After the 2010 season, where Petrov was thirteenth among the drivers, Renault team boss Éric Boullier said that there was a good chance of Petrov remaining with the team in 2011. He was retained by the team on a two-year deal. In the first race of the season in Australia, Petrov qualified sixth – a career-best – and secured his first Formula 1 podium, finishing in third place behind race-winner Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. Petrov ended the season with a tenth place finish in Brazil, but with Adrian Sutil finishing sixth in the race, Sutil moved ahead of Petrov for ninth place in the final championship standings.
The DTM is a great racing series and I’m very happy that Mercedes-Benz is giving me the chance to compete against the world’s best touring car drivers in the DTM. I’m aware that I’ve got a steep learning curve ahead of me, but I love a challenge and accept it gladly
On 17 February of 2012, it was announced that Petrov would drive for the Caterham F1 Team, replacing Italian Jarno Trulli and partnering Heikki Kovalainen. This season was quite rough for Vitaly. At the Canadian Grand Prix, Petrov managed to qualify in 19th, ahead of the Toro Rosso of Jean-Éric Vergne, but was unable to keep ahead at the start and went on to finish exactly where he started, albeit, one lap behind the leaders. After starting the race on the tenth row of the grid, Petrov ran as high as tenth at the European Grand Prix – a result that would have earned Caterham their first Formula 1 point – but was involved in a collision with Daniel Ricciardo and finished thirteenth.
After initially being outpaced by Kovalainen, once Petrov had adjusted to the car he began to turn the tables on his Finnish teammate. He finished ahead of Kovalainen in four of the last five races of the season. In the final race of the 2012 season in Brazil, Petrov finished a season’s best eleventh, making a crucial pass on Marussia’s Charles Pic in the closing stages of the Grand Prix. The result meant Caterham moved back ahead of Marussia to claim 10th place in the Constructor’s Championship, a position worth millions of pounds more in prize money.
Petrov was not signed by any team in 2013. He was not retained by Caterham, as Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde were signed to replace him and Heikki Kovalainen in the team. In 2014, Petrov has signed with Mercedes to drive in the German touring car series DTM.