Vitaly Petrov insists that he is still in contention to stay with Caterham next year amid question marks over whether he can raise the necessary funding.
The 28-year-old remains in the frame to drive Caterham for a second year despite his manager, Oksana Kosachenko, suggesting in the Russian media last month that they were struggling to raise the money. Kosachenko's comments have been interpreted in some quarters as meaning that Petrov's three-season grand prix career will come to an end next year. But Petrov insists that talks with Caterham are ongoing despite the team also considering well-backed GP2 graduate Giedo van der Garde and Marussia driver Charles Pic, who could also bring support.
"They want to keep us here," Petrov said. "My management and the team are still discussing the deal for next year so it is still open. The team is quite happy with me but we need to make some deals and we will see how we do."
Petrov's future depends on finding more backing from Russia but, provided he does so, the terms of the option in his contract are expected to allow him to stay on. He admitted that raising the funds is difficult as he does not benefit from support from a single wealthy Russian company bankrolling him fully.
"You see a lot of drivers – Mexican drivers or Spanish drivers – who have one sponsor who can decide which team they go to," said Petrov. "We don't have so much big support and we cannot choose and we always have to go to the limit [in terms of time] to find the right [sponsors]. That's why it's a little bit more difficult for me because maybe we have an opportunity, but we don't have the support behind us."
Despite the struggle to raise the funds, Petrov does not believe that he's in a bad position. He emphasized that his manager's comments were driven by a desire to push hard to raise funding earlier than in previous seasons so that his future can be tied down sooner.
"It's not negative," said Petrov. "We chose to start to talk now, now at the end of the year or in the last race and this is why we started to complain a little bit earlier than normal. It's the right thing to do.
"We work all through the year, but in the last few years, we started to work just at the end of the year and that is why I signed the contract with Renault [for 2010 and 2011] and Caterham late."