Petrov in talks with Marussia and others

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Vitaly Petrov is striving to return to the Formula One grid in time for Russian first grand prix due to be held next year.

The Vyborg-born driver lost his drive for Caterham at the end of last year after three years in the sport.

Petrov told RSport he had approached several teams about a drive next year including Russian-backed outfit Marussia.

“I need to understand their plans, what they want and how they want to be in F1 – just to have a car and drive or they want to grow up,” said Petrov.

Petrov was a guest of Mercedes at last weekend’s DTM (German touring car) race at the Moscow Raceway. He is one of several Russian drivers vying for a place on the grid ahead of next year’s inaugural race in Sochi.

Muscovite Sergey Sirotkin is in the running for an F1 debut with Sauber after a Russian research organization invested in the team. Red Bull also gave an F1 test to Daniil Kvyat. Like Sirotkin, the Bashkortostan native is still in his teens.

Petrov, whose F1 career highlight was a podium finish at Melbourne in 2011, said the prospect of a race in Russia improved his chances of making a return to the sport’s top flight:

“I think definitely it helps, because it can’t be the Russian Grand Prix without Russian drivers, you know. Maybe it will motivate some people to support me.”

McLaren unveils 2018 F1 car, the MCL33

Photo: Getty Images
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McLaren F1 Team became the latest to launch their 2018 challenger on Friday, taking the covers off their new MCL33 chassis early on Friday morning.

McLaren endured a difficult 2017 season of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with their partnership with Honda eventually dissolving after a troublesome power unit saw them plagued by unreliability and low power.

A switch to Renault power units is expected to see them get an uptick in form, and the MCL33 chassis itself is actually an evolution on last year’s MCL32. Still, the team highlighted areas to improve upon, and aims for a return to prominence in 2018.

“The McLaren team was created by a brave pioneer, and has had bravery at its core ever since. Whether it’s been with brave drivers, brave leaders or brave fortune, this team has always fought back. And we definitely view 2018 as the year when McLaren will move closer to the front, fighting teams and drivers as we improve our fortunes,” said Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren Technology Group.

Brown also highlighted the car’s new papaya orange livery, a throwback to some of the most popular color schemes that have adorned McLaren entrants in a variety of disciplines. Brown indicated that this came about from requests of fans who wanted to see such a livery return to the McLaren marque.

“Our return to a papaya orange livery for this year wasn’t simply an emotional decision; it demonstrates that we are listening to our fans, building deeper engagement with them and the Formula 1 community as a whole. We want McLaren to earn respect on and off the track, and this felt like a good starting point. We want to show everyone what makes this team special, whether that’s our fans or our partners – there’s room for more on our journey.”

The team’s racing director Eric Boullier expressed optimism about the team’s potential for 2018, but also acknowledged the season will be sure to see its fair share of challenges.

“I think the whole team feels proud of this car,” he asserted. “The design, engineering and aerodynamic departments have done an incredible job delivering a new car with a new power unit in an extremely short timeframe. We never took the easy route or looked to shortcut a process or a solution; and the result is a car that is neat and well-resolved.

“That said, we are under no illusions that it will be difficult to splinter the hegemony at the front; and that the midfield will be full of well-funded, experienced outfits with plenty to prove. We are humble about the challenge ahead, but feel we’ve prepared well, have a solid package that we can build upon and exploit as the season progresses, and have two excellent drivers who will make the difference in races.”

The MCL33 took to the track on Friday for filming at a test track in Spain, and will be run in anger for the first time when testing begins next week at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

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