Hingham: Russian driver Vitaly Petrov replaced Jarno Trulli at the Caterham F1 team on Friday, leaving the Italian veteran without a drive after 15 seasons in Formula One.
Caterham, formerly known as Team Lotus, said Petrov was at the team's factory in Hingham for a seat fitting and will take part in the pre-season testing in Barcelona next week.
The 27-year-old Petrov, the first Russian to drive in F1, was released by Renault at the end of last year after two seasons with the team. He finished 10th in the drivers' standings with 37 points.
"As the first Russian to race in F1, he carries the hopes of a huge nation with ease and his talents, experience with one of our current competitors, and insights on and off track will play a huge role in our development as we fight to join the established teams ahead," team principal Tony Fernandes said.
Petrov said he has been training all winter and was ready to get back into the cockpit. The 2012 season opens with the Australian Grand Prix on March 18.
"From what I have seen already, our new car is another good step forward from 2011 and now I cannot wait to see how it feels when we get to Barcelona," the Russian said.
Trulli is now without a team after an F1 career going back to 1997 and including 251 Grand Prix races. His release means there will be no Italian on the F1 grid for the first time since 1969.
Fernandes said Trulli had played an "absolutely pivotal rule" with the team since arriving in December 2009, but that it was time for a change with a "realistic eye on the global economic market."
"Jarno has an incredible natural talent behind the wheel, and his winning record and longevity in the sport will bear testament to that talent in the Formula 1 annals forever, but now it is time to open a new chapter in our team's story, and Vitaly is the right person to help us do that," Fernandes said.
"We have reached agreement with Jarno to bring an end to our partnership with him, but he will always be part of our family," he added.
Trulli thanked the team for the two seasons spent together.
"I understand the decision the team has made and I want to wish to the whole team the very best of luck for the season ahead," he said.
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