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Petrov eyes improvement with Caterham ahead of Russia's F1 bow

March 7, 2012 -- Updated 1815 GMT (0215 HKT)
Russia's Vitaly Petrov came 10th in last season's drivers' standings with 37 points.
Russia's Vitaly Petrov came 10th in last season's drivers' standings with 37 points.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Vitaly Petrov wants a place on the grid for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix in 2014
  • The 27-year-old signed a deal with the recently rebranded Caterham team last month
  • Petrov became the first Russian to race in F1 with Renault in 2010
  • Renault, now Lotus, dropped Petrov for 2012, opting for Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean

(CNN) -- Vitaly Petrov made motorsport history in 2010 by becoming the first Russian driver to compete in Formula One, and now he is focused on improving with his new team ahead of his country's inaugural grand prix in 2014.

Petrov faced the prospect of being without a place on the grid for the 2012 season, having been dropped by Renault in December after two years with the team -- now rebranded as Lotus.

But last month the 27-year-old was handed a drive with Caterham, who competed under the Lotus name in 2010 and 2011, as a replacement for veteran Italian Jarno Trulli.

"It was obviously a pretty tough winter," Petrov, who finished 10th in last season's drivers' standings, told Formula One's official website.

"It would be the same for anyone who wasn't sure what their job would be in the New Year. As soon as we knew the situation with Renault we started working on a solution. And Caterham were always the best option, and the one that I saw most potential in.

I think it's impossible to have a Russian GP without a Russian driver!
Vitaly Petrov

"So it's been really good to get the situation sorted out. I'm not so much relieved but happy to be in my new team."

Russia will further increase its presence in the elite division of motorsport when the city of Sochi stages its first grand prix in 2014, the same year the Black Sea resort is due to host the Winter Olympics.

"I think it's impossible to have a Russian GP without a Russian driver" Petrov said. "It is one of the biggest motivations for me -- to make sure I'm on the grid in 2014. It must be the same for any athlete in any sport.

"To be able to compete at home means everything to you and it's important to me that I'm there and in a car that I can really compete in."

Lotus opted to replace Petrov and secondary drivers Nick Hedfeld and Bruno Senna with an all-new line-up of the returning 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Frenchman Romain Grosjean.

Despite Lotus having a richer history than Caterham, having won two drivers' championships and two constructors' titles, Petrov is confident his new team can grow in the sport.

"Things at Renault were sometimes great and sometimes tricky, and even though they have a great past and a lot of history, Caterham is growing quickly and wants to make its own stories, so the chance to be part of that feels good."

Petrov got behind the wheel of his new car for the first time at a test event in Barcelona last month and will make his race debut for Caterham at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 18.

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