Vitaly Petrov will contest a second Formula 1 season with the Renault outfit after confirming his contract had been extended with the team beyond his debut 2010 season.
However, the team has called for the Russian to bring more consistency into his driving, after the Vyborg-born driver racked up a substantial repair bill for the team by dint of many accidents as he explored the limits of the R30 car.
It would seem that a very impressive drive at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – where he withstood enormous pressure from Fernando Alonso to finish the race in sixth place – might have been the clincher for Renault, which has interestingly offered Petrov a two-year deal until the end of 2012.
“We are very pleased to confirm that Vitaly will be staying with us for 2011 and 2012, in order that both he and the team can build on a promising 2010 campaign,” team boss Eric Boullier told the media at a press conference in Moscow.
“[Team-mate] Robert Kubica provides a remarkable benchmark for both speed and consistency, and we are certain that Vitaly will move closer to this level of performance next year,” he added.
“I am very happy to continue with the team and proud to be representing Lotus Renault GP for the 2011 and 2012 seasons,” Petrov added, and acknowledged that he will have to lift his game in 2011.
“I learned a lot about the sport, the circuits and the car this year. That will help me improve even more in the future. I am very excited about working with this great team once more, and I’m confident that I will deliver,” he added.
“In many ways, 2010 was about learning. 2011 will be about performing. Today, I feel I am ready to rise to this challenge.”
The team is certainly not blind to the potentially lucrative sponsorship market that largely remains untapped in Petrov’s homeland, and the team would be looking to engage more corporate partnerships in support of Russia’s first full-time F1 driver.
“Thanks to Vitaly and the team, Russia is opening up to Formula 1,” Renault co-owner Gerard Lopez said. “Over the past few months, we’ve established close links with this country and with some of its strongest companies.
“We’re looking forward to building on this special relationship and turning it into a very successful adventure over the next two seasons,” he added.