From Russia With Cash

Duncan ScottAnalyst IJanuary 31, 2010

VALENCIA, SPAIN - JANUARY 31:  Vitaly Petrov of Russia and Renault F1 attends a press conference following the launch of the new Renault R30 at the Ricardo Tormo circuit on January 31, 2010 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Vitaly Petrov, whose passport says he is Виталий Александрович Петров, has been introduced to the world as Robert Kubica's partner at Renault F1.

No doubt we all bid a warm welcome to the first Russian F1 driver, although there seems to be no doubt that Petrov got the seat at Renault at least partly because he is sponsored to the tune of E15M.

Those fronting up the cash are reported to be the giant state-owned Russian gas producer Gazprom and Russia's biggest bank Sberbank, which is also state-owned.

Petrov's racing history is at least reasonable. He started in karts at the very young age of six, and competed in various series before first entering GP2 part-way through the 2006 season. The next year he finished 13th in the GP2 driver standings, improving to seventh in 2008.

He finished second to Nico Hulkenberg in the 2009 GP2 season, winning two races. He beat his team-mate Romain Grosjean, but the French-Swiss driver missed the last four races due to replacing Nelson Piquet Jnr in the Renault F1 team.

As we now know, Grosjean has not been retained by Renault, and 25-year-old Petrov will be on the grid in Bahrain on March 14. It is said that money can't buy love, but it can certainly buy a form of loyalty.

If Petrov does not perform, and Kubica will not be there to make him look good, could Renault F1 afford to fire him?

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