F1 Winter Break
Caterham makes change with Petrov replacing Trulli
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Feb 2012   |  11:25 am GMT  |  99 comments

Caterham has this morning announced that Lotus Renault exile Vitaly Petrov has replaced Italian veteran Jarno Trulli in its race line-up for 2012, appearing to effectively put an end to the latter’s 15-year Formula 1 career.

Speculation had been doing the rounds for weeks suggesting that Trulli’s position was not as secure as the contract renewal the team announced it had signed with the 37-year-old former Renault and Toyota driver had initially appeared last September.

With Petrov having been released by Renault/Lotus following two seasons at the end of last year in favour of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, the Russian’s name had been strongly mooted and on Friday morning Caterham confirmed a change had been made.

Team principal Tony Fernandes said: “We are all delighted to welcome Vitaly into our team and are very excited about the role he will play in helping us take the next steps forward in 2012 and for many years to come.

“When we first met it was immediately clear that Vitaly understands and shares our vision for how we want our team to grow. As the first Russian to race in F1 he carries the hopes of a huge nation with ease and his talents, experience with one of our current competitors and insights on and off track will play a huge role in our development as we fight to join the established teams ahead.”

Petrov, meanwhile, says he is excited to be joining Caterham and is confident that in its third year of competition the team can start challenging the back end of the midfield on a consistent basis.

“This is a very exciting day for me. I would like to thank Tony, Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin for giving me the chance to join a team that made its F1 debut at the same time as me, and has grown from one of the new teams to a serious force for future honours. The passion and spirit that Tony and the whole team have to keep moving forwards is infectious, and I am honoured to be able to join them and play my part in helping the team mount a serious challenge to the teams ahead in 2012 and for many seasons to come,” he said.

“I have been training hard all winter and am ready to get back into the cockpit and go to work. From what I have seen already, our new car is another good step forward from 2011 and now I cannot wait to see how it feels when we get to Barcelona. I would also like to take this chance to thank all my fans and partners for their support and their patience.”

Fernandes also praised Trulli for the Italian’s role in having helped the team grow over the past two seasons, but admitted that the decision to draft in Petrov had been to “ensure that we give fresh impetus across the whole team and with a realistic eye on the global economic market,” the team now being able to tap into the portfolio of sponsors that Petrov brings with him being the only Russian in F1.

“I also want to take this opportunity to thank Jarno for the absolutely pivotal role he played in the formation and progression of our team since he joined us in December 2009. Jarno knew that when he joined us it would be a very different environment to where he had been before, and when we gave him the package he wanted he absolutely shone,” Fernandes said.

“With that in mind it was not an easy decision to bring Vitaly in to replace Jarno, but it was one we made to ensure that we give fresh impetus across the whole team and with a realistic eye on the global economic market. Jarno has an incredible natural talent behind the wheel, and his winning record and longevity in the sport will bear testament to that talent in the Formula 1 annals forever, but now it is time to open a new chapter in our team’s story, and Vitaly is the right person to help us do that.”

Trulli endured something of a dismal 2011 as near season-long problems with his car’s power steering system meant he was unable to challenge the impressively consistent Heikki Kovalainen on a regular basis, his once stellar qualifying pace taking a particular hit.

With all the other seats on the grid now taken, the 2004 Monaco GP winner tooks to be following fellow veteran Rubens Barrichello out of the F1 exit door.

Trulli, who did drive the new CT01 on the final day of the Jerez test, was quoted in the same Caterham press release as saying: “I want to take this chance to thank Tony, Kamarudin, SM Nasarudin, Riad, Mike and everyone in the team for the two seasons we had together. From zero we built up and established a solid F1 team. I’m really proud to have been part of it. I understand the decision the team has made and I want to wish to the whole team the very best of luck for the season ahead.”

Trulli’s departure comes a day after Mike Gascoyne, a staunch ally of the Italian driver having previously worked with him at three different teams, would move away from the day-to-day running of the F1 squad’s technical department to take on a wider role within the expanding Caterham Group. You can read more on that story here.

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Perhaps not surprising, but sad that Jarno much like Rubens did not get the send off from that paddock that he deserved...


The should have retired with dignity and not waited until someone else makes the call for them.


Now that is a fair point, but I also think team management string them along a bit... They must know sooner than this whether they want to keep them or not.

It's this bit that's dissapointing, they were either good enough at the end of last season or not... teams do not need to drag it out


what? did he honestly think he was going to ride Caterham back to the front of the grid before he retired? Management is running a new team with old drivers and shareholders who are expecting return, and Trulli was outperformed by Heikki. I feel its a little unfair to act like he didnt see this coming


teams are keeping their options open, in case their prefered drivers (Senna, Petrov) cannot dish out the money needed or the drive. 1 is business as well as sport


Yes, but he is again being paid to do nothing, no?



Can you have your commnets on what was the point of delaying so much a decision that all the paddock new? Why didnt they bring Petrov to the test if he was the choosen one over Truli?




Clearly took some time to sort out Petrov's money and negotiate the break with Jarno


His agent looks a formidable lady.This is quite a coup for her and I suspect Buemi and Algy may do well to think about signing with her

Rumor has it she is a black belt judo....


I'd rather another driver got a chance. I guess the further down the grid you go, the more economics come into play.

It's sad when drivers like Rubens get a cash deal together and can't stay even though they are clearly very talented. Cash talks, talent walks. Nothing changes.


In some respects F1 seems to be going 'back to the future'.......yet another journeyman pay driver gets the nod for money and sponsorship reasons.

And, Caterham, don't forget that Petrov was recently dropped by arch rivals Lotus nee Renault.


Petrov brings millions and is no better than Jarno.
Caterham have just halved their chances of success.


By that reckoning they would've improved their bank account then.


If Petrov brings in money and is no better than Jarno, how does that halve their chance of success? They have a driver of similar ability but lots of extra cash, surely that is a good thing for the team


Yes, good point, but with those millions they will be able to keep developing the car throughout the year, increasing Heikki's chances of success.


This will be interesting battle between Petrov and Kovy, the latter I think will continue the dominance over his team-mate, again.

Message to Alguesari - don't despair on not getting this elusive 2012 seat. Petrov just has more money behind him than you.


Trulli was ahead of Kova in the championship standings.


That's rubbish - Kovy spanked Trulli most of the season. Kovy drove a horrible car far above it's rightful place in many races. No one, or almost no one, could possibly agree with you that Trulli somehow drove better than Kovy.


That was thanks to a flukey 13th place in Melbourne when Heikki retired, the two HRT cars DNQ'ed and the two Saubers were DSQ'ed with another few cars retiring.

Otherwise it was 8-3 in the races and a whopping 18-2 in quali both in Heikki's favour. Remember that Trulli has been regarded Asa quali expert in his time with Renault and Toyota.

Caterham were right to drop him in my opinion. Petrov will bring important dollars to the team to develop the car and he is no slouch.


Thanks for everything. Now don't let the door hit you on the way out. What's a contract worth in F1 these days anyway?


These days? You mean unlike the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, when drivers were dropped during the season while having contracts?

Sometimes every race a new driver even.


Sad for Jarno, but nobody would have picked him up, even if this had happened in November.

I hope Caterham have a big spare parts container...


Doubt many people will be surprised with this signing. From a money point of view it was a no-brainer and from a driver point of view I don't see much changing as Trulli has been on the decline for years. Never seemed like his heart was in it while with Fernandes and co, unlike Heikki who has flourished.

Really hope the year of evolution, addition of KERS and another years experience allow the team to move forwards.


It's so sad for Jarno. Good luck in US racing series, I hope to see you again on race track!


A part for all the pr bs talks, how much cash is this Vitaly carrying to this lousy team?


Very sad to see Trulli waliking away from F1. Once again, this is not based on merit, but money. Petrov is a mediocre, below par driver. Don't see him making such a big impact in a substandard team as Caterham.


Do mediocre below par drivers make the podium as Petrov did last season.


I wonder on what basis they can fire Jarno given that his contract was renewed in September.


Petrov seems like a nice chap, not sure he'll do a massive amount for their results?!


About time. Jarno was slow and a complainer. Never hear any other drivers having issues with power steering for example..

A sad end to the Trulli Train


I saw a tweet from someone at Caterham when Trulli was testing at Jerez that said something to the effect of "Hope the steering is to Jarno's liking." In reflection, that sounds like the kind of comment you get from someone in the pits who'd had enough out of the driver. I wonder if they knew then that this was coming?


I feel sorry for Trulli. But just like Barrichello, he too is past his sell by date. But the timing is bad. Didn't he take part in the Jerez testing recently? Why didn't they make the decission earlier?

Anyway, this is F1 and money talks. Trulli is not one of the best there is but there are better drivers losing out to pay drivers.

Addio Trulli!


I liked Trulli. I think the demise of Toyota put him in the way of these wannabe teams at the back where a stable career is as elusive as a win....


I can see why trulli has been replaced, I mean he wasn't the force he used to be...and trying to be fair, he wasn't a strong force then. But nothing has been said about the fact he has a contract for this year. So has he done a kimi and taken a nice slice of pie to step back?


So he looks to have finally gotten a car that he might shine in after two years of driving lemons and big Tony pulls the rug out from under him.

Thanks for the input and adios

How much will it have cost to pay him out?


A serious decision from a serious F1 team...


Suprised it's taken this long to announce, was always a no brainer. Maybe Trulli's contract was tricky to break?

Both drivers have similar pace on the track but Petrov comes with loads of added $$$!


Ive never been a massive Trulli fan but feel sorry for him and the timing of this seems odd to me.

Why did the team renew his contract last year then do this.

I like what Caterham are doing and how they have gone about it but this seems odd for them.

Ahmad Al-Bashrawi

I second that.

Antonis Papadakis

I want to applaud Tony, for sure now they can take it up with Williams, in the back of the middlefield.Petrov vs Maldonado will be the real fight in 2012 lol.


Except that Williams will be a couple of seconds a lap faster, dont go on last years results and assume Caterham will close the gap and Williams will stand still.


Oh my god. I already anticipate the joyful hysteria from Russian F1 TV commentator each time his favorite "Vitalik" will appear on screen.

Can't say I am surprised, it was an anticipated decision, but the one I totally disagree with.

I might be mistaken of course, but if Petrov will not shine this year, I really hope Caterham has some get-out points in contract.


Petrov rocks. He will do well.


Good decision.


James - thanks again for leading with this breaking news. It's why I come to the site every day!

Have you ever considered doing a feature on the pay-driver vs paid driver situation in F1 now? There's a few things I'm curious about:

- How many drivers on ther grid are actually paid meaningful net amounts OUT of a team's budget, in excess of the sponsorship they personally bring into the team?

- At what point in a driver's career does he typically switch from being a paying to a paid driver? Will Petrov / Maldonado and drivers with similar national sponsorship programmes behind them ever switch?


Yes, I'm planning that before the season


Just when Caterham had a working power steering...

Good to see the old gits make place for the young guns.


Well i bet the first lot of Petrov's cash is going straight to Jarno Trulli's bank to pay off his contract !!!!!


Goog news 🙂


Classy words from Trulli. Whatever else, a true gent. However I could never understand how someone who had that most important quality for an F1 driver - pure, natural, mesmerising speed over one lap - could be sometimes be quite average over a race distance.

Also, like Button (only more so), he needed everything 'just so' to perform to his best.


Jackie Stewart seems to think Petrov has a lot of potential, He worked with Petrov last year & said that he really see’s something special in him.

Jackie often points out that Petrov didn’t come through karting & started racing very late in a Lada championship & that his rate of learning & improvement since he moved into single seaters has been very impressive.

I also get the impression that there are some at Lotus who believe that given more time Petrov has the potential to become a regular front runner


Not that anyone hasn't forseen this. But real shame for Trulli, I think he deserved one last chance to shine, I'd say only his motivation was lacking recently, but from what he's said and read I'd say that was back. Petrov's second chance to shine. ..got potential.


Can't say I am too shocked to hear the news. All I heard from Trulli last year was him moaning about the power steering. Never impressed me much as a driver as he was quick over a lap and partly impressed in 2005 but never could maintain top pace over a season. Petrov was impressive at the start of last year but faded away but in fairness to him so did the car.

James do you imagine that Caterham paid out Trulli the rest of his contract?


Rumours a few weeks ago were Petrov had to bring $12 million, 8m for the drive and 4m to oust Trulli.


For certain, they will have had to do that.


A sign of the times I'm afraid. Now, more than ever, money talks over talent! Said to see Jarno moved into 'retirement'.


"Money talks over talent"? Who ever rated Jarno as a "talented" driver? A great qualifier, but one of the worst "racers" I have ever seen. No one went backwards in a race so obviously as Jarno. The Trulli Train has now arrived at the Terminal, and won't ever be leaving. Yay!!


Would make a good Pirelli tester if he could be bothered with it. Italian working for Italian company with bags of talent and experience.

Think he just lost the motivation. Can't be easy fighting for wins then ending up at a new team that can't even fight for points.


Should have been Rubens !


I may be in the minority but I am disappointed with this. Yes Trulli had a bad year last year but so did Massa and Webber, and Schumi in his first year back. I think the power steering issue was a valid excuse (even if it was one that Alonso or Hamiliton would have driven round).

I don't believe that Trulli lost all his speed in the space of a few months. He was World Karting Champion, led in Austria in a Prost after joining to replace the injured Panis. At Renault he was more than a match for Alonso in qualifying, hammered Button. There is nobody faster over one lap.

Petrov is competent but no more. He had many years in GP2/F3000 without challenging for the title. He is not as good as Grosjean, Maldonado, Senna, Pantano. Similar to a Buemi, Pic, D'Ambrosio. Probably its a good thing to have a Russian driver in F1 but not at the expense of the one remaining Italian.


Wow, just goes to show there really is no smoke without fire in F1...

Goodbye then Jarno, shame about your Renault career but the last few seasons have found you wanting. I'll be watching Petrov against Kovalainen with interest this season, I think it could be closer than some might expect. As an aside, this must make Petrov the only driver ever to move from Lotus to Lotus without ever actually driving a Lotus... 😀


Trulli always seemed to be a stand-up kind of guy. He was at times blunt, but truethful in his statements. I remember seeing him on a bike riding around I-465 in Indianapolis. A guy I'd like to throw back a few beers with.


I love you Jarno, good luck to you and your family.


Its a shame Trulli did not get to finish his F1 career on a high note and show what he is really able to do, but Petrov should be able to produce the same results that Trulli would have been capable of and if he can bring more sponsorship to the team then that should help the development of the car and the team to progress up the grid.


Money talks !!


Question : When is a Contract not a Contract ?

Answer : When it's with a Formula 1 Team


This was a given. Tony Fernandes quotes "...with a realistic eye on the global economic market..." So we have another "pay driver" on the grid! A sad reality!It is so sad but at the same time a necessary evil!


YES! I wanted to read this article - despite it being very much Deja Vu in F1 circles (Another driver ousted for $$$Money$$$...) JUST to see how someone else would find yet another alternative way of politically wording the phrase "We swapped drivers for MONEY!!"


Is this a sponsorship signing, or is it personnel (being Lotus before etc). I can see why they would want to replace Trulli, but surely Jaime Alguersuari or Adrian Sutil would have been a better bet?

Anyone see Petrov using this as an opportunity, I can’t!!!


Whilst its a same to see a drive with Jarno's experience (potentially) leave the sport, the facts of the performance can't be hidden from. He's not performed at the same level as his team mate. It also shows that a "concrete" contract can never be relied upon either!


Makes sense, but would have been fairer on Trulli if this had all been sorted before Christmas.


Hmmm... pretty big news; I guess Petrov is younger and more motivated, so they won't lose too much, if anything, in terms of speed. They do lose a lot of experience. At least the team were gracious enough to mention their 'realistic eye on the global economic market'.



seems to me, it's money doing the talking...

I a way I can understand Caterham: they have brought in some big engineering names, and all these guys must get paid. So - why not? They still have got Heikki.


Trulli was a decent bloke and racer, but it was time to move on. Would of preferred Jaime, but petrov should keep heikki honest


it was time for jarno to go but he had a good career in f1. although he only won one race he was as fast as any driver over 1 lap in qualifying when in his prime.

good luck in your next career choice jarno.

as for petrov, i'm not sure you'll enjoy your new seat because heikki is quicker than you.


It's a shame that Trulli's career ended like this, and before he could get in the points with Lotus/Caterham. Watching him in qualifying in the 2004-2005 days was a treat, and there are a handful of podiums that were great to watch. It's a shame he never quite got there...

Now to open that bottle of his wine, and toast to a career that gave many happy memories!


Whilst its a shame to see a drive with Jarno’s experience (potentially) leaving the sport, the facts of his performances in 2011 can’t be ignored. He’s simply not performed at the same level as his team mate. It also shows that a “concrete” contract can never be relied upon either!


Yes it can. The contract would have had a clause allowing the team to terminate with (probably) full payment. If it couldn't have been relied on, as you suggest, then he would not have been payed out, just booted out.

A contract is whatever is written on it - including the clauses.


I'm sure Petrov brought a few million rubles in some sort of sponsorship and of course now Caterham will have the pleasure of gazing upon the "smiling face" of Petrov's "charming, fetching, magnetic, exquiste and radiant" personal commissar, well done comrade, "Hasta La Victoria Siempre!"


Quite an understandable decision. Jarno would have said goodbye to the F1 world long time ago if it was not for the opportunity given to him thanks to Mike. However his replacement is bringing mainly sponsoring and not a lot of talent (based on what we have seen so far). I thought that Fernandez was bankrolling the team. For him to need the sponsoring of Petrov, must mean that he is in financial difficulties, which is bad news for Caterham


With drivers having contracts and then being dropped I guess the real winners are the lawyers. F1 contracts must have to cover every eventuality, it would be interesting to see a modern day F1 contract to one from yesteryear.


I agree that it is a shame to see a driver like Trulli disappear from the grid with little more than a whimper - although he only won 1 race he had some good seasons with Toyota. Petrov is still cutting his teeth really and shows potential (if he can keep the car on the road) so perhaps that's what Caterham are banking on? Heikki's an experienced pair of hand at least 🙂


OMG!!! It's true what they say after all, dreams do come true - Cool.

This is great news for F1 fans for the way the current grid looks, we have stiff competition up & down the grid among teams with the exception of Marussia, HRT & Williams.

Now I know I should tot the PR line that Caterham have so nicely done about Trulli's career but unfortunately I can't for am glad to see the back of Trulli & his Trulli train that has been the cause of huge frustration for F1 fans over the years plus he has this endearing habit of blaming other drivers for his shunts like he did with Sutil in Brazil 2009.

Also am glad to see Petrov's sponsorship money finally coming through for it would have been a sad day if we didn't have a Russian driver on the grid with the Russian Gp on the way.

Anyway it seems F1 is taking a rather disturbing trend for the senior drivers i.e. Get rid of the old & bring in the new.

This can't be comforting news for Schumi for he either wins the championship or else his neck is next on the guillotine.


So its officially now, there's no Italian driver on the grid in so many years, I wonder what Montezemolo thinks about this.


Petrov is quick. Faster than Jarno in the same car, not sure. I think this is another example of how the sport has really evolved into nothing more than pay drives outside of the top 4 teams. I remember when we all used to put down Pedro Dinitz.... I guess he was the real wave of the future



perhaps Trulli is not the best example but can you write an article explaining why "less talented" drivers have sponsorship and those "with talent" do? I still can't understand this problem. Surely only a sponsor would support a "driver with talent".



James, in your opinion where do Petrov, Maldonado and Senna stand compared to each other? Thanks.


Petrov is obviously the most experienced in F1. Like Senna he started late in car racing. All can be vrry wuick at times. Consistency is the problem for all of them


With Trulli dropped, fans just have Massa and Karthikeyan to whine about....


I actually wanted to see Patrov back for 2012. The second half of 2011 wasn't the best for him, but he was interesting to watch.


I am glad this clean up in F1 has started. At least 6 other old drivers can be sen to retirement so new blood can flow into F1.


Some teams have no respect for drivers these days. The drivers are simply discarded like yesterday's newspapers. Is this the way drivers like Trulli and Barrichello leave the sport they loved and lived their entire life? These drivers didn't get the opportunity to say their fans a proper good bye. Very sad.


I'd like to say I'm shocked, but I'm not. Trulli had a shocker of a season last year he has publically blamed on power steering. That, along with Petrov's sponsership and apparant ability sealed Trulli's fate.

The only shame is we will never know if power steering was Trulli's real issue, or was it made up for PR reasons? Either way, he has said he is happy with this year's powersteering, and we could have once again compare his performance to Kovy's.

Wish Trulli all the best, and hope Petrov will be the good replacement Caterham needs.


It's a shame, but I guess it was inevitable. Trulli didn't seem like he was that happy at Caterham anyway, and seems like his motivation has decreased over the years. I always felt that getting thrashed by Alonso at Renault put a dent in his pride that he could never really recover from. Sad to see him go, very fast driver in his day - but it's also good to see Petrov in a car for 2012, as he does seem to have some genuine pace.


I think this is great news for caterham petrov brings speed experience enthusiasm and much needed cash which is more than trulli could offer


It's a shame they renewed his contract just to lay him off right before the season starts. That left him no chance whatsoever to get a drive anywhere else. I call that a deliberate low blow.


What is your view of Trulli James? When he was on form was impressive then seemed to out on a Sunday afternoon drive for the next 4 races. I rated him in 2005 when Toyota were getting there act together and he had a great race in Japan coming second to Vettel and beating Lewis in 09. But races like that are too far and few between.


Trulli did well out of F1. It’s something I have never understood, drivers like Trulli, Coultard, Rubens, Fisicella can have careers lasting well over 10years and never really being close to the front runners.

Why is that?

I think he was lucky to have had such a career, he never brought anything, imo, to F1.


Im sorry but to all these people who say trulli was a rubbish driver and always will be. You are simple juding him on 2 years at his later age. Yes he has struggled the past 2 years and probabaly should have retired, but you can not wipe away his history.

I do believe James Was commentating with Martin Brundle at Spa, When Martin was shocked about how fast Trulli went through a certain section (i cant remember the name to be fair) but i do recall martin being taken back and saying laughing saying he cant believe the speed he took in the corner he has never seen a care go through there as fast. James do you remember this?

In 97, Trulli came in for the Injured Panis in a prost and Put in an stunning performace leading the race until an engine issue. - One of the most promising rookies drives in a long time.

He won Monaco. - Enough Said. Drivers do not win monaco without a decent amount of Skill.

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