The Renault team have confirmed Vitaly Petrov as the squad's second driver for 2010

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    The Renault team have confirmed Vitaly Petrov as the squad's second driver for 2010

    Post by Ross on 31st January 2010, 11:16

    Renault confirms Petrov as second driver

    Renault has announced that Vitaly Petrov will fill its second seat alongside Robert Kubica this year, as Turn Two predicted.

    The 25-year-old GP2 runner-up becomes the first Russian driver to compete in Formula 1.

    Although he is believed to bring substantial backing from Russian companies, Petrov is also highly-rated for his performances in the junior formulae.

    He graduated through the Russian scene - winning his first titles in the domestic Lada Cup - and Formula Renault to Italian Formula 3000 and eventually GP2, where he has raced since mid-2006.

    Petrov blossomed into a race winner by the end of the following season, and emerged as Nico Hulkenberg's closest rival for the 2009 crown, although he eventually had to settle for second place.

    The second Renault seat was the last drive still available at one of the established top teams, and has been occupied by Romain Grosjean - who, coincidentally, was Petrov's GP2 team-mate last year until he was elevated to F1 - since Nelson Piquet's dramatic split with the squad last summer.

    Drivers linked to the Gravity management organisation run by Renault's new investor Gerard Lopez, including Belgium's Jerome d'Ambrosio and China's Ho-Pin Tung, had been rumoured as contenders for Renault, as had the experienced and currently drive-less Nick Heidfeld, before Petrov emerged as favourite in recent days.

    “This is a great opportunity for me and I’m really looking forward to working with the team this season,” said Petrov.

    “I’ve always dreamed of racing in Formula 1 and so to make my debut with a top team like Renault is very exciting.

    “The first race is just over a month away so I will make sure I spend as much time as possible with the team over the next few weeks so that I am fully prepared in time for Bahrain.”

    Despite Renault’s bruising experiences with Piquet and Grosjean in the past two years, new team principal Eric Boullier is confident its latest rookie signing will make the grade.

    “This is a very special day for Vitaly and we welcome him into the team,” he said.

    “As a rookie, we recognise that Vitaly will have a lot to learn this season, but his performances in GP2 last year were outstanding and confirmed that he is ready to make the step up to Formula 1.

    “With Robert alongside him, Vitaly has the perfect role model to learn from and I’m confident he will deliver on the promise he has shown throughout his career.”

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