Renault says that its decision to hire Vitaly Petrov as a driver for 2010 was motivated not purely by money, but because his performance and future potential also stood out.
Petrov is well known to have significant backing, rumored to be more than $17 million, and was linked with several F1 teams for a 2010 berth before committing to Renault. But although it is no secret his backing has helped ease his path into Renault, team chiefs are adamant that the Russian was chosen primarily because of his talent.
Renault team principal Eric Boullier said: "We just put it simply: either we go for an experienced driver which, on paper, may help to bring back some points for the championship - which is very crucial. Or we go for a young driver.
"One of the things that we wanted was to have a driver with strong sporting results. This is why [Vitaly] Petrov was on the list. Obviously going through every criteria that we wanted, we had to decide at one stage, and quite late honestly, experience or gambling on youth? The choice for Vitaly was clearly because he has the speed, we believe he has the speed and can do well. Definitely there is a risk because he is a young driver, but we had also to think in this process about the team for the future.
"Strategically, he is Russian, which can open up a lot of new perspectives for Formula 1, and not just Renault, for the future. That is part of the process to bring back the team to be head down and successful."
Team co-owner Gerard Lopez said that the attraction of Petrov was that he had the potential to open up new financial markets in Russia for his Renault team to exploit.
"We actually had drivers that could have brought about twice the amount that Vitaly is bringing," he explained. "So the choice was really made number one because of personal performance.
"The second thing I would like to say about that, when people talk about numbers, the fact is that someone like Vitaly can bring directly something like seven percent of the budget. That's not going to make this team wane or survive or something like that.
"The fact that Vitaly does come from Russia I think is interesting. But that is also true about Robert don't forget - the fact that he comes from a country that is very sizeable and that is completely unrepresented in F1. So we are, if anything, very aware of the nationality of our drivers and as a result of that very aware of where the marketing and sponsoring effort should go to."
Lopez admitted that the team did not yet have its full 2010 budget secured, but that discussions were ongoing with several potential title sponsors.
When asked how much of the team's 2010 budget was in place, Lopez said: "I am pretty good with numbers so I'd say something like 83%. So a large amount."