This is a great vote of confidence in the Russian, who was a rather erratic performer in 2010 with some very strong showings, such as Hungary, but also a tendency to lose the car when on slick tyres on a damp track. But he showed enough in the closing stages of the season to retain the drive and now has the security of knowing that he is in for 2012 as well as 2011. So he can build on the positives from this year.
As well as stringing a whole weekend together, rather than just individual moments of strong performance such as practice, qualifying or race, Petrov’s biggest challenge will be to get closer to the pace of his team mate Robert Kubica.
The gap between the two in terms of average grid position across the season was the largest in the field this year; seven places. Kubica averaged 6th place, Petrov 13th. His low points score also contributed to Renault losing the chance of fourth place in the Constructors, as a second driver would normally be expected to score 50% of the points of the lead driver, which would have put them on a par with Mercedes.
Team boss Gerard Lopez was very keen for the Russian to stay on board as he opens up the Russian market to the team, a lucrative one in which Lopez’ company Genii Capital is already very active. With a Russian Grand Prix on the calendar for 2014, the Lotus Renault GP team, as it is now called, is well placed to benefit.
Lopez said. “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.”