Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

When will be Vitaly's time to shine? // A plea for a bit of luck to go the Russian's way

Published by Christine

Last week, I wrote a post about Robert Kubica and his future at Renault, which was ruined almost instantly by the announcement that he would be staying with the team until the end of 2012. In the post, I was somewhat dismissive of Petrov, not for anything in particular, but perhaps for his anonymity in F1 at the moment.

A few things this weekend have made me rethink, or at least form an opinion, of F1's only Russian driver.

Early morning Petrov has little to say for himself.
Credit: Sidepodcast

On Friday morning, prior to Free Practice at Silverstone, we went driver stalking, and watched as several of those participating climbed into their respective cars and headed towards the circuit. Vitaly Petrov was one of those who we saw, and he left the hotel only moments after Kubica had previously departed (he can't even manage to be first out of bed).

As the above picture demonstrates, there were several fans lining up to see who was going to emerge, blinking into the morning sun, and each time a driver came out you'd hear cries of: "Robert, Robert," or "Tonio, Tonio." When Petrov came out, there was just one lone voice, asking in an unsure tone: "Vitaly?"

Poor chap. I felt really sorry for him. Granted, he didn't sign any autographs or pose for any pictures, but would you want to if no one was asking for them? He wasn't so much grumpy as completely ignored.

Later that day, during the Audience with Joe, Mr Saward was sharing some thoughts on Petrov and his season so far. Whilst there is nothing outstanding to say about the performance on track, the fact that he hasn't been rubbished by Kubica and is at least catching up to his more experienced partners' coat-tails speaks volumes.

Something I hadn't realised until this weekend was that Petrov didn't do the karting thing. Whilst the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso rose through the ranks and gained vital experience at the wheel of a kart, Vitaly was doing nothing of the sort. He had a comparatively late introduction to motor racing than you might expect of the best these days, and spent the formative years of his career in the Russian Lada Cup. No, I haven't heard of it either.

Before coming to F1, he competed in GP2 for several years as well, but he's arguably one of the least experienced racers out there. Keeping his nose clean and steering clear of trouble seems like much more of an achievement knowing that!

Now that Renault scuppered my plans for debating Kubica's future, I can turn my attention to Petrov instead. Will he have a future with them? He doesn't seem to mind being in a team dominated by the other driver, but as he gets more experience, will he stay that way? Would any other teams want him? If not next year, then further into the future?