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Renault confirms Russian Vitaly Petrov

ESPNF1 Staff
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Pictures of the new Renault

Vitaly Petrov will be the first Russian driver in F1 after Renault confirmed he would partner Robert Kubica for the 2010 season.

The 25-year-old driver is thought to bring extensive personal sponsorship, but his speed should not be over-looked. He finished second in the 2009 GP2 Series behind Nico Hulkenberg who will race for Williams this year.

"This is a very special day for Vitaly and we welcome him into the team," team principal Eric Boullier said. "As a rookie, we recognise that Vitaly will have a lot to learn this season, but his performances in GP2 last year were outstanding and confirmed that he is ready to make the step up to Formula One. With Robert alongside him, Vitaly has the perfect role model to learn from and I'm confident he will deliver on the promise he has shown throughout his career."

"This is a great opportunity for me and I'm really looking forward to working with the team this season," added Petrov. "I've always dreamed of racing in F1 and so to make my debut with a top team like Renault is very exciting. The first race is just over a month away so I will make sure I spend as much time as possible with the team over the next few weeks so that I am fully prepared in time for Bahrain."

Kubica unveiled the new Renault R30 challenger at the Ricardo Tormo circuit near Valencia this afternoon. Following the exit of title sponsor ING last season the new colours of the Renault are yellow and black. The livery is similar to the one the team used in 1977.

"We've been working flat-out during the winter to ensure that we begin the new season in the best shape possible," Boullier said. "The R30 should be a competitive, strong and reliable car, and we've opted for an aggressive development strategy throughout the season. Now we're here ready for the first test and we're all excited to see if the car performs as we think it will."

Kubica was keen to get behind the wheel: "The team has been working on the new car for a long time and it's clear that we are moving in the right direction," he said. "Now we need to maximise the winter tests to keep up this momentum and continue improving the car. Our priority is to make the car easy to drive because the new rules favour cars that are not too sensitive - we need a car that behaves consistently in a wide range of conditions."

Petrov, who is expected to test on Tuesday added: "The new car looks stunning and the colours remind everybody of Renault's great history in the sport. I can't wait to drive the car for the first time and start working with the team."

The team also confirmed that Jerome d'Ambrosio and Ho-Pin Tung will be its reserve drivers for the season. Both drivers are managed by Gravity, formerly run by team boss Eric Boullier and owned Genii Capital which bought the majority share in Renault. Czech driver Jan Charouz will also be a reserve driver for the team this year but was unable to attend the launch.

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