So what exactly was Vitaly Petrov doing at Pirelli's launch?

It looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck… but Pirelli boss Paul Hembery is crying foul (pun intended) over rumours that dumped Renault F1 driver Vitaly Petrov will be joining the tyre maker as its official test and development driver.

Rumours logically began to swirl yesterday when the Russian was a guest at Pirelli’s media day at Abu Dhabi, and this was supported by quotes by Russian news agency Ria Novisti attributed to his manager, Oksana Kosachenko, which claimed that he was on the Italian tyre maker’s books.

Maybe he was there to check out the Pirelli models?The story was later corrected and then retracted completely, although the BBC still speculated that a deal with Pirelli was “not signed yet, but probable”.

Perhaps the retraction was due to comments made by Hembery, who initially dodged questions about Petrov’s surprise appearance, but later relented to scotch the rumours.

“Just to clarify Vitaly is here as a guest, we do not have a test car never mind talking test drivers. So no truth in rumours,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Only this week, the Russian driver hinted that news over his 2012 whereabouts could be made public in the coming days, as his management team works furiously to thrash out a deal to keep him on the F1 grid.

With the only vacancy left being with the tail-ender HRT outfit, there are still rumours doing the rounds that Caterham F1 will dump Jarno Trulli in place of the well-sponsored 27-year-old.

“For those in the know about formula one, it’s totally clear where Vitaly could end up,” Kosachenko was quoted as saying. “All you need to do it take a look at the driver list, and it’s totally clear.

“I won’t hide it, the main issue at the moment is over our partners and sponsors, whether they will support the programme we are offering.

“Unfortunately, we are running out of time. There is a chance that Vitaly will end up in a Formula 1 team, even as the lead pilot.”

[Images via Sutton Images]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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