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Motorsports Mondial

Vitaly Petrov completes Lotus Renault GP driver line-up for 2011 and 2012

Lotus Renault GP is delighted to announce that Vitaly Petrov will complete its driver line-up for the 2011 and 2012 Formula 1 seasons. He will partner Robert Kubica next year.

Gérard Lopez, Chairman of Lotus Renault GP, commented: “We’re delighted to have Vitaly on board for another two years. Last season, he showed on several occasions that he clearly has the potential to deliver. It was just a matter of putting everything together during the same weekend, race after race, and this will be his target for 2011. Also, thanks to Vitaly and the team, Russia is opening up to Formula 1. Over the past few months, we’ve established close links with this country and with some of its strongest companies. We’re looking forward to building on this special relationship and turning it into a very successful adventure over the next two seasons.”

Eric Boullier, Lotus Renault GP Team Principal, commented: “We are very pleased to confirm that Vitaly will be staying with us for 2011 and 2012, in order that both he and the team can build on a promising 2010 campaign. The entire team has been working flat out over the past months to improve our competitiveness, and a stable driver line-up is essential to achieving our targets. Robert Kubica provides a remarkable benchmark for both speed and consistency, and we are certain that Vitaly will move closer to this level of performance next year.”

Vitaly Petrov commented: “I am very happy to continue with the team and proud to be representing Lotus Renault GP for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. I learned a lot about the sport, the circuits and the car this year. That will help me improve even more in the future. I am very excited about working with this great team once more, and I’m confident that I will deliver. In many ways, 2010 was about learning. 2011 will be about performing. Today, I feel I am ready to rise to this challenge.”

Q&A with Vitaly Petrov

Vitaly, how does it feel to be confirmed at Lotus Renault GP?

It feels great. I learned so much this year and I know that I can come back stronger in 2011. I’m extremely proud to be part of this team and I’m determined to repay the faith they have shown in me.

Looking back on your rookie season, what did you enjoy the most?

There were a lot of special moments. The race in Shanghai is something that I will always remember when I overtook Schumacher and Webber to score my first points. Then, the first time I made Q3 in Turkey was an important step for me. And, of course, the race in Hungary was probably my best weekend when everything came together for me.

How has your life change since you became an F1 driver?

There’s a lot more travelling and not a lot of time for myself, but I will never complain because I love what I’m doing. I still feel like a boy at Christmas every time I get in the car. Life is not as easy as people think, of course, and there’s a lot more to F1 than driving the car, but it’s an amazing experience and I know I’m lucky to be one of just 24 drivers on the grid.

Do you feel at home at Lotus Renault GP?

Yes, definitely. Previous drivers have always said that there is a special atmosphere here and I have to say I agree with them. The team is very warm, friendly and open, and I get on really well with the guys.

Can you feel the growing support for F1 from Russia?

Definitely. I get more support from my country every week. In fact, recently one of the major lifestyle magazines included me in their top ten most attractive single men of Russia! You can feel that the sport is becoming more popular and soon we will have our own Grand Prix, which will create more interest. Even our prime minister, Mr Putin, got a taste of F1 when he tried a Renault F1 car earlier this year.

What will be the main challenges of 2011?

There are quite a few changes that we have to adapt to as a team: new tyres, moveable rear wings and KERS, which I’ve never used before. There’s even a new race in India. So there are some things to adapt to, but they should improve the show and make for better racing. I’ve already seen the new car in the wind tunnel and it looks very promising. I also love our new colours and can’t wait to get back in the car and go racing.

What do you hope to achieve in your second season?

My objective is to continue improving as a driver and to become more consistent. There were times this year when I made mistakes and lost points, and I know this is where I can improve. I think I showed that I have the speed, but I need to be consistent over the whole weekend and get the maximum from every session.

What is your plan over the next couple of months before testing begins in February?

I was thinking about spending a few days in Maranello this winter, but I have been told it probably wasn’t the best idea… Seriously, after a busy year I’m taking the time to go back home and see my family and friends. It’s also the time to recharge my batteries so that I can come back fresh next year. I’m already working hard on my fitness and doing lots of training to be ready for the start of the season. Then, in January, I will be at the factory to see my engineers and for my seat-fit in the new car.

Motorsports Mondial

Bruno Michel with Vitaly Petrov

Bruno Michel: “I believe the 2011 GP3 grid will be a testament to our successful
first season.”

GP3 Series CEO Bruno Michel talks in-depth about the past twelve months in the life of the new
category, and what we can expect for 2011.
Bruno, what will you remember of the first GP3 Series season?

I think the first season has exceeded all of our expectations. We had a full grid of thirty cars, with
some of the best young talents currently working their way up the racing ladder. We knew before
the season even begun that we had given the teams a reliable and powerful car that was a great
teaching tool for the drivers. Combined to their skills and eagerness, this car has offered us some
fine racing and real talents have emerged, starting with our first Champion, Esteban Gutierrez.

We are proud that he has already been signed up by a Formula One team showing the calibre and
the visibility of what our grid is made of. Next season, Esteban and some other drivers will graduate
from GP3 to move up to GP2. It is a known fact that the latter is the strongest feeder category to
Formula One. GP3 is rapidly becoming the needed stepping stone to this now well-established path
to the pinnacle of Motorsport.

In what sense do you think that you have achieved your objectives?

First of all, we have managed to put together a new Series that filled thirty seats. In challenging
economical times, we had to offer teams and drivers a competitive and reliable car in a strong and
exciting category. Not a lot of people thought at first that we could pull it off – in such a short
amount of time no less – but from the first testing day until the last race, that’s what happened.
When GP3 drivers jump into the GP2 cars they will find that the aggressive driving style that they
had to develop to get the best out of the GP3 cars will still be needed in order to get the best out of
its elder sister. This was a clear objective for us: the two cars are from the same racing family, and
you need to know the first car well in order to master the second.

Our GP2 and GP3 paddocks work as one entity within the Formula One world. GP3 drivers can begin
building relationships not only with GP2 teams, but also key people in the Formula One fraternity.
Motorsport is an extremely competitive and complex industry so young drivers need to make the
right people stand up and take notice – we offer an arena for them to do this. We give them the
opportunity to start nurturing those all important relationships ready to take the next step.

What can we expect for next season?

In 2011 we are expecting an even stronger driver line-up. In post-season testing we filled 180 seats
and covered 55,000 km of tarmac, this just goes to show that drivers already consider GP3 as the
must-do category to reach GP2 and Formula One.
Next year, the aero downforce will be reduced while the tyres will give a higher peak of grip. The
car will be even more selective and demanding. Drivers will have to learn how to deliver pure brutal
performance in one lap while managing tyres in a middle of dog fights races. We also hope to
increase the track time during a race weekend.

I believe the grid next season will be a testament to our successful first season, attracting the best
young talents around the globe. Drivers know that they are getting a good reliable car with a top
team at a cost effective price. Some of racing last season was second to none and I believe it will
just keep getting better. All eyes will be firmly focussed on GP3 this season, with everyone
wondering who the next Gutiérrez is. I for one am looking forward to an exciting action packed year
of racing.

For more information: www.gp3series.com