x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Raikkonen's addition may tally out to Petrov's subtraction

Vitaly Petrov's Formula One future looks uncertain after Lotus Renault announced Finland¿s 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen would be racing for them next year. The Russian has a contract for 2012 but Oksana Kossatchenko, his manager, said that the situation was not as straightforward.

With Kimi Raikkonen joining Renault, soon to be known as Lotus in 2012, it could be that Vitaly Petrov, above, may be looking for a new ride next season.
With Kimi Raikkonen joining Renault, soon to be known as Lotus in 2012, it could be that Vitaly Petrov, above, may be looking for a new ride next season.

Russian driver Vitaly Petrov's Formula One future looked uncertain on Tuesday after Lotus/Renault announced the 2007 F1 champion, Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, would be racing for them next year.

Petrov has a contract with Renault, who will change their name to Lotus next year, for 2012, but his manager, Oksana Kossatchenko, told Reuters that the situation was not straightforward.

"I have a meeting tomorrow morning to decide what we are doing, whether we are staying or not," she said.

"We will have a discussion.

"I guess we will find a solution and then we will have a few days to sort it out ... we would like to know the plan from the team before we confirm our presence in the team."

While the team said Raikkonen had signed a two-year deal, bringing him back to Formula One after two years competing in the World Rally Championship, they did not clarify who would be his team mate.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean, this year's GP2 champion, had been presented as the leading contender for the seat Raikkonen has taken but could still be in the frame to be the team's number two.

Brazilian Bruno Senna, who raced for the last eight races of this year after Germany's Nick Heidfeld was dropped, would be another possibility.

Kossatchenko said the team wanted to "make the analysis of the year and then we will decide whether we can collaborate and go forward together or if it is better for us to split.

"I would like to stay with what we have at the moment, so the best option is to keep Vitaly in Lotus for the next year," she said, adding that she also had a 'Plan B and a Plan C'.

Petrov finished the season 10th overall with 37 points, more than hald the fifth-placed team's total tally of 73.

Renault team principal Eric Boullier told autosport.com that all scenarios were possible and Poland's highly-rated Robert Kubica, ruled out of the entire 2011 season due to injury, also remained in the frame.

"I need to sit down with Robert and his manager to understand what is the timescale for him to come back," he said.

"We have confirmed Kimi and we will confirm the second seat when we are ready to confirm it."

The 32-year-old Raikkonen said he is glad to get back into action after experiencing mixed fortunes in the World Rally Championship and a subsequent stint in NASCAR.

"I wouldn't come back if I wouldn't be motivated," Raikkonen said on the team's website.

"There's always a lot of talk about motivation to race, but nobody really knows what I do or what I think apart from myself, so I don't really care what people think.

"I wouldn't put my name on the contract if I didn't think that I would really enjoy it. It will be exciting to get back. The main reason was that I never really lost the passion in racing in F1."

Raikkonen won 18 Grands Prix, finished on the podium 62 times and took pole position 16 times in F1.

"Kimi's decision to come back to Formula 1 with us is the first step of several announcements which should turn us into an even more serious contender in the future," said Gerard Lopez, the head of Luxembourg-based Genii Capital, which this year bought the final 25 percent of Renault's stake.

"We are all looking forward to working with a world champion."