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DATE News (chronologically)
12/09/10
f1
Petrov to keep Renault seat  UPDATE #4
Vitaly Petrov
(GMM)  Russian Vitaly Petrov looks likely to stay in formula one next year following the rebranding of his 2010 employer as Lotus Renault GP.

With the 26-year-old rookie in the cockpit financed by his personal backers, the Enstone based team then benefitted from new Russian sponsors including Vyborg Shipyard, Flagman vodka and the carmaker Lada.

And media reports, including the Malaysian state news agency Bernama, said Group Lotus parent Proton will also "benefit immensely" from the Renault team buy-in "by gaining access to Russia's automotive market and automotive technologies owned by (team owner) Genii".

As the highest profile Russian link, Petrov might now be feeling more secure for 2011.

Proton confirmed: "Genii is ... offering Proton the ability to leverage on its existing business relationships in Russia and other parts of the world as a means to expand (our) global reach."

Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar admitted on BBC radio on Wednesday that Russian Petrov is well-placed to keep his seat in 2011.

"Our preferred choice is Vitaly Petrov," he said, "but I hope that the team will be able to announce by the end of the year the final lineup."

11/22/10 Vitaly Petrov’s manager has revealed that her client is likely to sign a new agreement with Renault F1 for 2011 within the next few weeks – finally bringing to an end the ongoing speculation regarding the young Russian rookie’s future.

Petrov’s place at Renault has been under threat for some time, with the Enstone-based outfit appreciating the financial sponsorship the 26-year-old is able to bring to the team from his homeland – but less appreciative on occasion of his frustrating inconsistency and alarming predilection for throwing his car into the wall.

However, after producing a superb performance to fend off double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso in a palpably faster Ferrari all the way to the checkered flag to finish a strong sixth in the Abu Dhabi season finale just over a week ago – thereby securing 13th spot in the final drivers’ standings – it appears the man dubbed the ‘Vyborg Rocket’ has now done enough to earn himself a stay-of-execution.

“I am still working in this direction, but so far nothing definite can be said,” stated his manager Oksana Kosachenko, speaking to Russian newspaper Sovetsky Sport. “Most likely, we’ll sign a contract in the second week of December. As for Vitaly, he is on vacation now and he’ll spend the next two-to-three weeks outside of Russia.”

Kosachenko is understood to be bidding for a two-year deal for Petrov, and has hinted that even if Renault elects not to retain him, there is another possibility to prolong his F1 career.

11/11/10 Nick Heidfeld is in talks with Renault regarding a 2011 race-seat, a move that would once again see him partner Robert Kubica.

With Kubica confirmed for next year's Championship, Renault are currently debating whether or not to keep rookie driver Vitaly Petrov, who has scored just 19 points to his team-mate's 126.

One driver believed to be in the running is Heidfeld as the German, who started this season as Mercedes GP's test driver before switching to Pirelli and then to a Sauber race-seat, looks for a full-time drive for 2011.

However, the 33-year-old admits Renault may be looking for more than just talent.

"At the moment it's my last race for Sauber but I've thought that a couple of times before!" he told ITV when asked about 2011. "So you never know what's going to happen...

"For next year obviously there are many seats already gone. I'm still in talks with various teams - also with Renault, as (team boss Eric) Boullier confirmed.

"That would be the best opportunity but it's far to say that it's obvious that it's not the only thing (that) they are looking for is talent, what you can give on the circuit.

"They have Vitaly in the car, who has strong arguments but looking at his performance on track this year we know what those arguments are."

11/10/10 (GMM)  Eric Boullier has answered "yes" when asked if Nick Heidfeld and Adrian Sutil are still in the running to drive for the Renault team in 2011.

The Enstone based squad is considering whether to re-sign Vitaly Petrov, the Russian rookie who brings substantial backing to the race seat but has scored more than 100 fewer points than team leader Robert Kubica this season.

The situation means Renault has missed out on the additional revenue of beating Mercedes to fourth in the constructors' championship, moving Auto Motor und Sport to ask team boss Boullier "if a second Kubica" would have proved better value in 2010.

"A sentence beginning with 'if' is wrong," answered the Frenchman.

"Vitaly is lacking experience at a high level.  He started very late in motor sport and is needing to learn more than the other newcomers."

But can Renault afford to wait for the 26-year-old to develop, given its plans to return to world championship contention?

"The title is at the end of our master plan," answered Boullier.  "We must take one step at a time.

"It would be stupid to get a second top driver if we are not ready for it.  I want to establish ourselves as a top team, for the long term.  Then the top sponsors will come again."

But he insisted that Petrov's place is not necessarily safe.

"We have said we are supporting Vitaly until the end of the season to give him a chance.  Then we will make a decision."

When asked if Germans Heidfeld and Sutil are still in the running, Boullier answered: "Yes.  But first we have to give Petrov his chance.

"Only then can we enter serious talks with them.  Nick is free for 2011, as we know, and he wants to be with us."

What about Kimi Raikkonen, who was earlier linked with a return to F1 with Renault but then angrily slammed the speculation as a "marketing" ploy?

"We were interested; his management contacted me," answered Boullier.  "But the media reported about it and it annoyed Kimi.  He then told me that he would prefer to keep rallying."

10/23/10 (GMM) Renault and Force India have emerged as the most likely teams to keep Nick Heidfeld's formula one career alive beyond 2010.

Although returning from Mercedes and Pirelli test roles to complete the current season with Sauber, Heidfeld has not been signed for next season by the Swiss team, who are instead pitting the Telmex-backed rookie Sergio Perez alongside Kamui Kobayashi.

But veteran Heidfeld, revealing in Korea this week that he does not carry any personal sponsorship, has emerged as a candidate to replace the disappointing Russian pay-driver Vitaly Petrov at Renault.

Team boss Eric Boullier, suggesting that a decision could be made by Abu Dhabi next month, told Auto Motor und Sport: "Both Heidfeld and Sutil have a chance."

Renault's thinking is that, with a good driver alongside Robert Kubica this year, the team might have beaten Mercedes to fourth place in the constructors' championship -- with prize-money arguably beyond even Petrov's impressive dowry.

Adrian Sutil, with a solid offer to stay at Force India, is also an interesting candidate, especially with his EUR5 million in Medion sponsorship to offer.

The good news for Heidfeld is that Sutil is also in the running for the Williams seat, and his departure to either Renault or Williams would free up the place at Force India.

"That place is only free if Sutil goes," Heidfeld confirmed.

And if Sutil does go, the 33-year-old German must be a strong contender.

"It is hardly conceivable that Force India will go into 2011 with Vitantonio Liuzzi next to Paul di Resta -- one a newcomer and another who has been disappointing," said the German media report.
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