2011 hasn't been the year that Jarno Trulli would have hoped for, Having struggled although the year especially in Qualifying, Trulli was outshone by his Team Heikki Kovalainen in all departments, In the middle of the season at Germany he was replaced by Karun Chandhok for a one off race and thus fueling speculation that Trulli is well on his way out. But throughout the season and even during the winter break, Tony Fernandes kept on stressing that both Trulli and Heikki will see through the 2012 season.
On the other side, Vitaly Petrov having been dropped by Lotus after the end of the last season was left without a drive and having a slow sponsor on board didn't help his cause either as he was left hunting and even attended a Pirelli programme indicating that he would the Pirelli Tester.
But with the modern day world not depending on two or three parties, Rumors were flowing all over that Petrov would be heading to either HRT or Caterham and with lots of reports that were coming in over the winter suggesting that Petrov was heading to Caterham and the deal was not being signed because of a sponsor not firm on a commitment.
Earlier today, It was announced by Caterham that Vital Petrov has been signed and that he will be replacing Jarno Trulli with immediate effect.
Team Principal Tony Fernandes explains the signing of Petrov
“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."
Tony Fernandes also has a few words of praise for Jarno Trulli
“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. 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."
He further went onto say that there has been a mutual agreement with Trulli
“We have reached agreement with Jarno to bring an end to our partnership with him, but he will always be part of our family. Now we want to integrate Vitaly as quickly as possible into the team, and we will do everything we can to welcome him in, give him a car he can use to showcase his skills, and keep up the rate of development that has seen us go from an empty factory with just four employees to a fully established Formula 1 team in just over two years.”
Vitaly Petrov explains that he never lost hope and was actually training hard over the winter to get ready for action. He says, “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.
“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.”
Meanwhile the man who has helped the Team secure 10th place in the constructors championship says that he understands the situation behind the signing of Petrov and wished the Team the very best for the season ahead. Trulli Says, “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 form in 2011 hasn't been encouraging, Although he secured two 13th place finishes compared to one 13th place finish by his Teammate, Trulli several times lashed out at the Team regarding the power steering issues his car was facing, Several people remarked that this has not gone down well with Team management and this was one of the many reasons he was being outlooked. Trulli took part in the First Pre Season test and was looking happy with the performance of the car. But Trulli as of this writing hasn't confirmed about his retirement plans
Vitaly Petrov who had a seat fitting earlier in the day will be taking part in the Second Test.