Romain Grosjean’s signing at Lotus F1 has now cast Vitaly Petrov into the F1 wilderness, leaving the Russian and his management team scrambling to find an available race seat for next season. While there might be plenty of ideas about what he can do, there are precious few available seats.
The teams still to confirm their driver line-ups are Toro Rosso and Force India (two seats apiece), Williams (one seat) and HRT (one seat).
It’s fairly safe to assume that both the opportunities at Force India and Toro Rosso are, at best, remote possibilities. Force India will pick from its three contracted drivers – Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta and Nico Hülkenberg – while Toro Rosso will pick from its four Red Bull-backed drivers.
This leaves Williams and HRT as his only logical options. Williams has made it clear that it’s looking for an experienced driver to partner Pastor Maldonado next year, and the most likely candidate is Adrian Sutil, in the event that it doesn’t keep Rubens Barrichello on board.
With corporate Russia keen to maintain a local presence on the grid ahead of the inaugural Russian Grand Prix in 2013, Petrov’s cause is helped by the fact that he is well supported by sponsors from his homeland.
If Williams is prepared to favour sponsorship income ahead of overall experience, then Petrov’s stock could be raised, and he might be a surprise contender for the seat.
The other option is the second seat at HRT, which is likely to go to the highest bidder, as the newly-signed Pedro de la Rosa isn’t bringing any sponsorship income with him.
We reported last week that the Russian press is kicking around the idea of Petrov joining the Marussia (nee Virgin Racing) team next year, which would mean that Timo Glock is displaced from his seat at the team. While the idea is commercially a good one, it’s doubtful that will appeal to Petrov. Then again, if he’s really desperate…
[Original image via Sutton Images]