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Vitaly Petrov

Formula 1 driver

Vitaly Petrov
Credit: Caterham F1
Vital statistics for Vitaly Petrov
BirthplaceVyborg, Soviet Union
Born8 September 1984
F1 debutBahrain Grand Prix, 2010

Vitaly Petrov made his F1 debut with the Renault team in 2010, and was retained in 2011 when Robert Kubica was unable to return to F1. For the following year he was signed to the Caterham squad but had no confirmed deal for 2013 and he moved instead to DTM and endurance racing.

F1 biography

Petrov had a different route into Formula One than the more traditional junior karting series. He began racing at the relatively older age of 14, taking part in some rallying and Russian national events. He moved to Formula Renault in 2003, racing in various iterations of the serious across Europe, but then he returned to Russia to take part in a Russia Lada championship.

Back to Europe, and Petrov moved through a couple of other junior categories before joining GP2. He won a handful of races across his four years in the sport, and he finished second in the hunt for the title in 2009. Petrov made the step up to Formula One in 2010, signing to the Renault team and becoming the first Russian driver to race in the sport.

On his F1 debut, in 2010, the original plan had been for Petrov to partner Robert Kubica, learning what he could whilst the team went from strength to strength. Kubica’s accident put pay to those goals, and as the subsequent two years unfolded, Renault gradually became disenchanted with their signing.

2011 began well, with Petrov bringing home a third place trophy at the very first race, but the season went rapidly downhill after that. Towards the end of the year, the Russian was very vocal about his disappointment with the team, even going so far as to call their car useless. He backtracked quickly, and the bosses acknowledged it was heat of the moment angst, but it was a sure fire way of talking himself out of a seat.

The 2012 grid was full, every seat taken and every driver appearing to have a signed contract. Rumours surfaced that Jarno Trulli’s seat at the Caterham squad may not be as secure as it seemed, and although the Italian denied any such speculation, eventually it was announced that Petrov would be taking his place.

It was a reasonable season for Petrov, with a good run of finishes, but it wasn't enough to convince the Caterham bosses to keep him on for a second season. Instead, Petrov changed his focus to other racing endeavours, including a stint in the DTM series in 2014, and the world endurance championship in 2016.