History was made today when Vitaly Petrov was unveiled as the first ever Russian Formula One driver. The 25-year-old joins Robert Kubica at Renault for the 2010 season and is fully focussed ahead of his F1-debut in Bahrain.
Interview conducted and provided by Renault Press Office:
Q. Vitaly, you ve just been announced as a Renault F1 Team driver. You must be thrilledâ€¦
Yes, absolutely! For me it was a very long winter and I felt rather nervous when I saw other drivers contracts signed one after another. But I always believed that one day it would by my turn, and now, thanks to the Renault F1 Team, this finally became a reality. When I first drove a Formula Renault 2.0 car back in 2003, I couldn t imagine that one day I would drive for Renault in Formula One so this really is a dream come true. Now I just can t wait to sit in the cockpit and do my very first lap in a Formula One car. I m sure it will feel fantastic.
Q. Are you looking forward to working alongside Robert Kubica? Do you know him already?
I ve followed Robert s progress in Formula One for a couple of years and he s a really nice guy. We re both from Eastern Europe and we both like rallying and ice racing so for me Robert is almost the perfect teammate. He s been in Formula One for four years already and has won a race so I m sure I can learn a lot from him. I know that Robert was keen for me to join the team so I d like to thank him for his support.
Q. How will you prepare for the new season both physically and mentally?
The physical side is much easier as fitness training is a part of my life and I feel fit enough already. Maybe I should do some more work to build up my neck with the fitness trainer at Renault so that I don t have any problems. The mental side is more challenging because it still takes time for me to realise that I am a Formula One driver and that I will be on the grid in Bahrain. Also, I will be the first Russian to race in Formula One so there will be a lot of interest and expectation. But I m not worrying about it as I have enough time to get used to the attention and prepare for the season. The next four weeks will be particularly important at the test sessions as I get to know the team and work closely with everyone to make sure I am ready.
Q. What are you most looking forward to this year?
I m really looking forward to any wet races and the street circuits. That s because I started my racing career in Russia competing in rally sprints and ice racing so I feel comfortable in slippery conditions. Also, I won my first GP2 race on a wet track in Valencia when I started on slicks on a damp track. But first I need to see what an F1 car feels like in the rain.
Q. What are your goals for the year ahead?
Ð¢Ð¾ learn as much as possible from this successful team and from Robert during the year. I m so proud to be here and want to do the best job I can. When testing begins we will be able to judge where the R30 is in comparison with the other teams so before that it s too early to set targets. All I can say is that I will try to be as close to Robert as possible and hopefully score points regularly for the team.