TheCheckeredFlag has learned Petrov’s Renault future could be in doubt as soon as the first test at Jerez.
Renault had planned to run Petrov on the first two days and Robert Kubica during the last two days of testing, however test driver Ho-Pin Tung will attend the first two days as a ‘reserve’ driver – possibly a sign Renault are putting pressure on Petrov to cough up his sponsorship money in a hurry?
In the past, Petrov was believed to have backing from Russian gas giant Gazprom as well as telecommunications firm Megafon, but any sort of money has failed to materialise so far – putting the well-funded Tung in with a chance of promotion.
Another driver who could benefit from Petrov’s departure is Christian Klien – who had already been in contention for the second seat, but just missed out. TCF also learned he had made a basic agreement with Sauber last year – but the deal fell through, leaving him still searching for a drive.
“As long as there are cockpits available I will try hard,” said Klien.
Team principal Eric Boullier has been trying hard to prove Petrov was hired on his racing talent and not the sponsorship he would bring – but this is starting to bring his credibility rating down to that of a certain former holder of his job…