You can accuse them of a lot of things, but subtlety’s not one of them. Although Renault strenuously denies it, everybody knows Vitaly Petrov wouldn’t be in the team if it weren’t for 15 million Euros. And since comrad Vitaly’s disastrous first race the noise has gotten worse.
So articles like this one start appearing. Brilliant PR. The main message is the headline, as it should be: “Petrov is not your average F1 pay driver.” You bet he ain’t. But why?
Well, these are Russians, so in case you didn’t get it immediately they’re prepared to spell it out for you: “Vitaly has not come into F1 because of the money, but because of the strategic interests of various companies”. Oh, and because of his driving talent. Ahem.
Strategic interest of various companies. Umm, right. The Russian companies themselves are not being named at this stage, obviously. They’d like to stay in the background. (Where have I heard that before? Ah yes, my Dutch friends who bought Saab.) But Renault, and anybody who keeps spreading these vicious rumours about Petrov being a pay driver: you are officially warned now. Shut up.