Former F1 driver Vitaly Petrov will compete in this year’s DTM championship after securing a drive with Mercedes.

Russia’s first Formula 1 driver – who raced for Renault/Lotus and Caterham between 2010 and 2012 – also become the first driver from his homeland to drive a DTM car, when he demonstrated Mercedes’ C-Coupe racer in a promotional event on the streets of Moscow.

That kicked off several months worth of rumours linking the racer to a possible DTM move, and after a further test outing at Portimão in January, the deal was announced this week.

“The DTM is a great racing series and I’m very happy that Mercedes are giving me the chance to compete against the world’s best touring car drivers,” Petrov said in a Mercedes press release.

“I’m aware that I’ve got a steep learning curve ahead of me, but I love a challenge and accept it gladly.”

Petrov is well aware that his role with serve as a launchpad to build local interest in the DTM championship.

“Motor racing is becoming ever more popular in Russia; last year, the DTM debuted at the Moscow Raceway and Sochi will host Formula 1 for the first time this year,” he continued.

“I am certain that we will see many more Russian racing drivers in various series in the future and I hope that I can do my part in the DTM to make our sport more popular in my home country.”

“[Vitaly] is a great sportsman and representative of his country, who has already demonstrated his ability by achieving, among other things, a podium finish in Formula 1,” Mercedes’ motorsport boss, Toto Wolff, added.

“He will also be a great asset for Mercedes, especially in the Russian market.”

Petrov joins the already-confirmed Gary Paffett, Paul di Resta and Daniel Juncadella in Mercedes’ 2014 DTM line-up. The carmaker has a further four seats to announce in its eight-car line-up.

The DTM championship’s season-opening round takes place on the first weekend of May.

Image via DTM Media

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Geoff Burke

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