After 57 races for several teams in Formula One, it was a very barren year for Russian racer Vitaly Petrov, as he was not an active driver, but a lifeline to driver via the chance to drive the Mercedes-Benz “DTM-Taxi” on home soil late last year has led to the 29-year-old becoming the fourth driver in Stuttgart’s line-up for 2014. The new addition to Mercedes-Benz Motorsport’s DTM ranks was unveiled during an official press conference at television channel Russia 2’s headquarters.
His test with the team in Portimao back in January brought a bit more strength to the fact that he was actively looking to find that series that would be a good grounding base for his future in racing. Petrov’s test according to Head of Motorsport, Toto Wolff, was “successful,” and sees that it will be a good partnership: “I’m sure that he will be valuable member of our team. Vitaly is a great sportsman and representative of his country, who has already demonstrated his ability. 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, who secured his only F1 podium finish at Melbourne back in 2011, is aware that the task ahead will be challenging and that he is in for a “steep learning curve”. However, he is looking forward to representing the brand, as well as his country along the way, hoping to make racing more popular: “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.
“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. Motor racing is becoming ever 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.”
In many ways, this is a very big coup for a Russian driver to become involved with such a brand, especially with the emerging trends where cars including the three marks in the DTM have shown a major increase in sales over the last couple of years at the very least, with Mercedes-Benz showing bigger increases that most. This was echoed in the statement made by Mercedes-Benz Russia’s Jan Madeja: “I am very pleased that we have been able to secure another well-known ambassador for our brand with Vitaly. He will represent the DTM and Mercedes-Benz very well in Russia and help to further increase awareness and strengthen our leading position among the German premium manufacturers in our country.”
With Vitaly’s role as a professional race driver in the DTM and being linked with Mercedes-Benz, the country will further enjoy other forms of racing that are in the population’s radar when the lights go out and the rubber gets laid down. We’ll find out how he fares when the official testes get underway next month.