Q. Vitaly, you've just been announced as a Renault F1 Team driver. You must be thrilled...
Vitaly Petrov: Yes, absolutely! For me it was a very long winter and I felt rather nervous when I saw other drivers' contracts signed one after another. But I always believed that one day it would by my turn, and now, thanks to the Renault F1 team, this finally became a reality. When I first drove a Formula Renault 2.0 car back in 2003, I couldn't imagine that one day I would drive for Renault in Formula 1, so this really is a dream come true. Now I just can't wait to sit in the cockpit and do my very first lap in a Formula 1 car. I'm sure it will feel fantastic.
Q. Are you looking forward to working alongside Robert Kubica? Do you know him already?
VP: I've followed Robert's progress in Formula 1 for a couple of years and he's a really nice guy. We're both from Eastern Europe and we both like rallying and ice racing, so for me Robert is almost the perfect teammate. He's been in Formula 1 for four years already and has won a race so I'm sure I can learn a lot from him. I know that Robert was keen for me to join the team so I'd like to thank him for his support.
Q. How will you prepare for the new season both physically and mentally?
VP: The physical side is much easier as fitness training is a part of my life and I feel fit enough already. Maybe I should do some more work to build up my neck with the fitness trainer at Renault so that I don't have any problems. The mental side is more challenging because it still takes time for me to realize that I am a Formula 1 driver and that I will be on the grid in Bahrain. Also, I will be the first Russian to race in Formula 1 so there will be a lot of interest and expectation. But I'm not worrying about it as I have enough time to get used to the attention and prepare for the season. The next four weeks will be particularly important at the test sessions as I get to know the team and work closely with everyone to make sure I am ready.
Q. What are you most looking forward to this year?
VP: I'm really looking forward to any wet races and the street circuits. That's because I started my racing career in Russia competing in rally sprints and ice racing so I feel comfortable in slippery conditions. Also, I won my first GP2 race on a wet track in Valencia when I started on slicks on a damp track. But first I need to see what an F1 car feels like in the rain.
Q. What are your goals for the year ahead?
VP: To learn as much as possible from this successful team and from Robert during the year. I'm so proud to be here and want to do the best job I can. When testing begins we will be able to judge where the R30 is in comparison with the other teams so, before that, it's too early to set targets. All I can say is that I will try to be as close to Robert as possible and hopefully score points regularly for the team.