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The future for Petrov

FEATURE BY MAT COCH
30/11/2011

Mat Coch writes:

The return of Kimi Raikkonen has stolen the headlines in the last day or so. The 2007 world champion's return has been much anticipated and speculated about as the season drew to a close.

Initially he was linked with a move to Williams, though, as we pointed out some weeks ago, that move never seemed to be based on any real logic. The Renault deal seemed a better option, and it has proved to be where the smart money was. Raikkonen's signing however has raised a number of points which don't seem to have a clear answer.

First and foremost, the simple fact is that signing Raikkonen is good business. It's good for the team, it's good for the sport and it's good for the fans. There are seemingly no losers from the decision, until one considers that Robert Kubica could return to the sport next season. As wild as that may seem it's a concept which has been actively discussed since Kimi was confirmed in black and gold, and with good reason. Kimi and Kubica in a team is a formidable combination. There's just one small problem; Vitaly Petrov.

The Russian became Renault's de facto team leader in 2011 though, if truth be told, probably wasn't up to the job. He's too inexperienced to really lead a team and has not proved to be the formidable competitor and personality Kubica was. His performances were solid, but not spectacular. Given the choice between a recovered (or recovering) Robert Kubica and Petrov the choice is comparatively simple.

It's not so cut and dry though. There is nothing to suggest Kubica will be ready for the start of the 2012 season, so while he may be road-mapped in to the teams longer plans it will need an interim plan. Given his service to Renault, not to mention the point at which he's at in his career, it's unlikely Petrov would be overly keen on the concept of a drive based on the assumption that Kubica won't be back, or perhaps on the understanding that he'll be the one to move aside should the Pole return.

Petrov's manager has announced that she will hold talks with Renault to confirm the team's plans so that a decision can be made over Vitaly's future there.
If Petrov was to move on there are precious few berth's available. The top four teams have confirmed their line-ups, though Petrov hasn't really done enough to show himself worthy of such a seat anyway. In the midfield Force India seem settled on di Resta and Hulkenberg, even if it has not admitted as much, Sauber is happy with what it's got while Toro Rosso has more drivers than it knows what to do with.

Caterham, which has been known as Team Lotus this year, has confirmed Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli however there has been speculation lately that Daniel Ricciardo could end up wearing green next season. When contacted for this article the team had nothing to say. Marussia, which has been Virgin for the last two seasons, has Timo Glock and Charles Pic. HRT has confirmed Pedro de La Rosa though exactly who will partner him remains up in the air, however it's expected to be Tonio Liuzzi.

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