Vitaly Petrov  Russia

  • Full name Vitaly Aleksandrovich Petrov
  • Nickname The Vyborg Rocket
  • Birth date September 8, 1984
  • Birthplace Vyborg, Russia
  • Current age 36 years 134 days
  • Height 1.85 m
  • Weight 75 kg
  • Teams Caterham, Renault
driver portrait
World Championship Career
Year Car Race Start Won Pod Class Best Pole Front Best Lap Hat Pts Pos
2010 Renault 19 19 0 0 13 5 0 0 7 0 0 27 13
2011 Renault, Lotus F1 19 19 0 1 16 3 0 0 6 0 0 37 10
2012 Caterham 20 19 0 0 17 11 0 0 18 0 0 0 -
Total 58 57 0 1 46 3 0 0 6 0 0 64
Race Circuit Date
First race Bahrain Grand Prix BIC March 14, 2010 Race results
Last race Brazilian Grand Prix Interlagos November 25, 2012 Race results
© Sutton Images

Russia's first Formula One driver Vitaly Petrov came to the sport with substantial financial backing, securing him a seat at Renault until 2012, but having failed to progress enough he lost his drive at the end of 2011.

After skipping karting he cut his teeth in Russia's Lada Cup and won the championship in 2002, taking victory at every race. He then spent two years racing in Formula Renault in Europe, spreading his time between a number of different national championships, but failed to make a mark on any one of them. A return to Russia followed where he won the Formula 1600 Russia title in 2005, taking five victories and kick-starting his career again.

A four year assault on GP2 followed, starting with a handful of races in 2006 before a full season in 2007 when he took his first win. Driving for Campos, he took another victory in 2008 on his way to a seventh place finish overall behind Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean. 2009 proved to be his breakthrough year as he regularly scored points, taking seven podiums, two race victories and finishing second overall in the championship. In the final standings he was 25 points off Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg, but it was a solid performance and gave him some credibility when negotiating contracts.

Renault team principal Eric Boullier insisted that the team was in talks with drivers with more money than Petrov, but wanted to employ someone with the right level of skill and experience. Although he struggled to prove that in 2010, a two-year contract next to his name meant he started the following year with less pressure and duly delivered a podium in Australia. That was as good as it got, however, as the car and Petrov fell off the pace throughout the season, and after a rant at the team in Abu Dhabi he eventually saw himself replaced by Romain Grosjean for 2012.

Petrov's sponsorship was too good for the F1 paddock to ignore, however, and his availability meant he was linked with a number of seats. Eventually he was confirmed at Caterham as a replacement for Jarno Trulli.

Strengths and weaknesses
He coped well with the pressure of having Fernando Alonso on his tail at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2010, but made silly errors on other occasions and dropped plenty of points.

Career high
Second place in the 2009 GP2 Series was the result of three seasons of slowly working his way up the grid. His win on the street circuit at Valencia was his most impressive as he held off eventual champion Nico Hulkenberg throughout the race to take victory by just 0.396s.

Career Low
Losing his seat with Renault for 2012 despite having a contract in place, having failed to kick on from his one and only podium finish in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

"The people in Russia, they must wake up to what has happened here because we are in F1 without any sponsorship and any help. My father has given me the money to be here. It's just him, my manager and my father's friends. No-one else."

Renault boss Eric Boullier on signing Petrov: "The choice for Vitaly was clearly because he has the speed. Definitely there is a risk because he is a young driver, but we had also to think in this process about the team for the future."

Petrov first drove a Lada Zhiguli off-road when he was five before his father started paying for driving lessons.

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