An indecisive sponsor is holding up Russian Formula One driver Vitaly Petrov’s search for a race seat for 2012, his manager Oksana Kosachenko told RIA Novosti on Monday.
Spanish team HRT filled the last officially vacant race seat last week, signing Indian driver Narain Kartikeyan, but last-minute shake-ups are possible before a February 10 registration deadline for the first race next month.
Petrov, who became Russia’s first F1 driver in 2010, was dropped by the Lotus Renault team at the end of the 2011 season, when he finished tenth in the championship.
Kosachenko said that the outcome for Petrov depended on his sponsors. “Of course, he is not very comfortable because we expected them to move a little bit faster," she said, adding one particular financial backer was holding up the process.
"Without these decisions, we cannot move forward.”
Petrov is in Oxford, England, near many of the F1 teams, but not directly involved in the talks, she said.
“His main task is not negotiating, because he is not presenting there. He doesn’t even know whom I am negotiating with yet. His main task is to be fit and prepared at any moment to jump into the car and deliver the result.”
Asked whether HRT's signing of Karthikeyan meant that Petrov would have to seek a reserve role, Kosachenko said: “I would say, at the moment I have some other options. I’m concentrating more on looking at those options.”
"If, within the next few days, we don’t succeed, we are going to talk to some other series and probably we are going to talk to Pirelli as well. There were no negotiations with Pirelli yet.”
Petrov has been linked with a role as test driver for F1 tire manufacturer Pirelli, and appeared for them as a promotional event last week.
Kosachenko refused to comment on rumors that she was in talks with the Caterham team to oust veteran driver Jarno Trulli and replace him with Petrov.
FIA Secretary General Assistant Najima Yattochane, who is in charge of F1 driver registration, said that she had set Febraury 10 as the last date for a driver to be registered for the first race of the season in Melbourne on March 18.
Any changes after this date would be “very difficult”, she said, although “nothing is impossible”.
Petrov’s best finish in F1 was third in the 2011 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, which remains his only podium finish to date.