The 411: Comings and Goings

Petrov replaces Trulli:

Biggest news of that day, although for some it had an air of inescapable inevitability, is that Vitaly Petrov has replaced Jarno Trulli at Caterham F1 for the 2012 season. He had remained coy over his future, playing down links to the team and a possible stint with Pirelli as their test driver. However it was all a clever rouse as he has landed in a team determined to climb their way through the ranks. And before he even gets behind the wheel, Petrov’s manager is already looking past the end of the season.

The most pertinent issue at play here is the nature of the appointment, with sponsorship money being the prime reason (not enough to keep him at Lotus though). The decision also leaves the grid without an Italian driver for the first time in 40 years, which has Stefano Domenicali bemoaning the loss despite Ferrari itself not having an Italian driver (in a full seat) since 1992. Other having been stand ins, most notably Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella who replaced an injured Felipe Massa in 2009.

The economic situation, and the benefit of having guaranteed cash flow coming into a fairly new team does certainly buff the shine on Petrov’s helmet. But to be fair to the driver he has shown a marked improvement over the past two season, definitely in the shadow of Robert Kubica during 2010, but Petrov took to the leader role in 2011 despite the more experienced Nick Heidfeld joining the team. The results may not have been great towards the end of the year, but then the car was certainly suffering the after effects of their radical front-facing exhaust.

And a few words from Trulli:

Jarno Trulli joined the grid way back in 1997, driving for both Minardi and Prost in his rookie year before cycling through Jordan, Renault, Toyota before joining Caterham F1 (then Lotus Racing) in 2010 in their rookie year. In short he’s not lacking in experience, but apparently his pockets aren’t quite deep enough for his knowledge to be sufficient. Nonetheless the Italian driver is proud of the time spent helping to establish the team.

“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,” Trulli said. “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.”

Karthikeyan half full or half empty:

Narain Kartheikeyan looks like he is in for another uncertain year as, depending on your news source of choice, he could be racing for the full year or not. But regarding the latter, and more positive outlook, that only earns a ‘may race the entire season’. Team principal Luiz Perez-Sala spoke about Karthikeyan’s return to the squad, “The idea as of now is to race him the whole season, but nothing is taken for granted in F1, you have to work for your place in every race. But as things stand, Narain and Pedro will race the entire season.” Which could quite easily leave a question mark of Pedro de la Rosa’s position as well.

First female driver in GP3:

Although an Italian may be leaving Formula One, another is joining the ranks albeit a little lower down. Vicky Piria has become the first female driver to join a GP3 team, announced today she will be joining another newcomer Trident Racing. The 18 year old will be making the step up from Formula Abarth, and has prevailed where other female drivers have only gotten as far as testing. Discussing her future Piria has taken a measured approach, “I know that there will be many tough aspects to overcome, especially because there will be a lot of more experienced drivers among my opponents. That said, I feel no pressure. I know I can afford a learning year and I’m aware that my goal for 2012 will be to improve step-by-step every lap.”

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