Vitaly Petrov will become Russia’s first DTM driver this season, after confirming that he will join Mercedes-Benz.
The former Formula One driver, who rose through the single seater ranks before joining Renault in F1 in 2010, tested for Mercedes in Portimão earlier this year and will line-up on the grid at the wheel of a DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé. He joins fellow former F1 driver Paul di Resta and McLaren test driver Gary Paffett.
“The DTM is a great racing series and I’m very happy that Mercedes-Benz are giving me the chance to compete against the world’s best touring car drivers in the DTM,” Petrov said of the announcement. “I’m aware that I’ve got a steep learning curve ahead of me, but I love a challenge and accept it gladly.”
“At my first test in Portimão, I was able to make my first acquaintance with the team and get a feel for the car, which is very important for me in order to play to my strengths,” he continued. “Motor racing is becoming more popular in Russia – last year, the DTM debuted at the Moscow Raceway and Sochi will host Formula 1 for the first time this year. I am certain that we will see many more Russian racing drivers in various series in the future and I hope that I can do my part in the DTM to make our sport more popular in my home country”.
Mercedes-Benz’s Head of Motorsport, Toto Wolff, commented on Petrov’s “successful” test and suggested he would become an important member of the team. “Vitaly is a great sportsman and representative of his country, who has already demonstrated his ability by achieving, among other things, a podium finish in Formula 1,” he said. “He will also be a great asset for Mercedes-Benz, especially in the Russian market. I am looking forward to see how things will develop within DTM.”
Petrov has enjoyed considerable success in his career to date, particularly in his native Russia – winning the Lada Cup in 2002, and finishing second in Lada Revolution Russia in 2004 (winning it in 2005). He came third in the 2006 Euroseries 3000 season. He finished runner up in the 2009 GP2 season, behind Nico Hulkenberg and beating other Formula One drivers such as Romain Grosjean (who only completed half a season before being called up to F1), Pastor Maldonado, Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi. Petrov got his F1 debut in 2010, driving for Renault who then became Lotus GP. During his time with them he won 64 championship points and finished on the podium once, at the 2011 Australian Grand Prix. He moved to Caterham for 2012 and proved crucial after he overtook Marussia’s Charles Pic at the last race in Brazil to secure tenth in the constructors championship. Neither he nor his then Caterham team-mate Heikki Kovalainen were retained for the 2013 season.
The DTM season kicks off on 4th May in Hockenheim.