Lotus Renault GP has given Russian driver Vitaly Petrov until December 10 to decide whether to remain with the Formula One team, his manager Oksana Kosachenko told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
The reported ultimatum comes on the same day the team announced the signing of Finnish 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen to a two-year deal.
“After today’s decision was announced, I was given a very short amount of time, literally ten days. We have until December 10 to decide if Vitaly stays or leaves,” Kosachenko said.
The 27-year-old Petrov signed a two-year deal with Lotus last year, guaranteeing him the option of staying with the team in 2012.
Kosachenko said she would fly to Britain on Wednesday for negotiations with team bosses, but hinted that Petrov’s future may lie elsewhere.
Asked what Petrov could learn from Raikkonen if he stays with Lotus Renault, Kosachenko answered, “You ask the question in the right way: If Vitaly stays in the team.”
She would only elaborate to say that Petrov’s personal preference over whether to remain is of little consequence, and that she is in talks with two other teams that she refused to name.
“It’s better to put it this way: Will the management come to an agreement with the owners? If we do, then Vitaly should take it as a given” that he should stay.
Petrov has had an inconsistent second year in the sport, ending up 10th in the drivers’ championship after he was unable to repeat the success of the opening Grand Prix in Australia, where he finished third.
Kosachenko claimed Petrov may have had a more successful season were it not for a testy relationship with Lotus Renault, and the February crash of Petrov’s teammate Robert Kubica that left him hospitalized and ruled him out for the year.
Raikkonen's arrival means that, should he stay, Petrov would have to compete for the second drive with Bruno Senna, who was deployed in the latter part of the season, and Frenchman Romain Grosjean.