Petrov deal with Caterham could be long term

Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Renault with Oksana Kosachenko

Vitaly Petrov with his manager Oksana Kosachenko

Feb.17 (GMM) Vitaly Petrov could deal with the Caterham team could last beyond 2012, the Russian’s manager said on Friday after the announcement.

Earlier, the former Lotus outfit announced that Petrov, ousted by Lotus (Renault) at the end of last season, is replacing Italian veteran Jarno Trulli with immediate effect.

On the face of it, the deal is not a good look for Petrov, having displaced one of F1′s most experienced drivers – and a grand prix winner – on the back of his sponsors’ purse.

Moreover, it also means there is no Italian on the F1 grid for the first time in decades.

“Vitaly is thinking about his place in formula one, and the rest is a question to the team,” insisted Petrov’s manager Oksana Kosachenko.

Team boss Tony Fernandes hinted in Caterham’s media statement on Friday that the Petrov deal is indeed fueled by the world’s economic situation.

So does that mean he is a ‘pay-driver’, and Heikki Kovalainen the clear number one?

“As far as I know,” Kosachenko said, “we['re] hav[e]ing absolutely equal status.”

She revealed that the initial contract is for one year only, but that that could change.

“At the moment we’re discussing that,” Kosachenko is quoted by the Ria Novosti news agency.

Earlier, she admitted that Bernie Ecclestone – perhaps because he is scheduling an inaugural Russian grand prix for 2014 – was trying to help Petrov find a seat this season.

“He was talking to me, he was trying to assist,” Kosachenko said on Friday, insisting that the eventual contract was “absolutely an internal deal” between Petrov and Caterham.

“No one else involved,” she clarified.