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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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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.


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.


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.


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.


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, 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’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.


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 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.


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.


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


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



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”.



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


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.


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 🙂


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.


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


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!”


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.


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!


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.


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



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.


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’.

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