Caterham F1 Team, formerly Team Lotus, has announced that Vitaly Petrov has joined the team as race driver, replacing Jarno Trulli with immediate effect. The Russian was formerly employed by the other Lotus on the grid – Lotus Renault GP, which will race as Lotus this season.

Vitaly was at the Caterham’s factory in Hingham today for a seat fitting ahead of his first run with the team at the second pre-season test in Barcelona next week.

“When we first met it was immediately clear that Vitaly understands and shares our vision for how we want our team to grow. 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,” said Team Principal Tony Fernandes.

“I also want to take this opportunity to thank Jarno for the absolutely pivotal role he played in the formation and progression of our team since he joined us in December 2009. Jarno knew that when he joined us it would be a very different environment to where he had been before, and when we gave him the package he wanted he absolutely shone.

“With that in mind it was not an easy decision to bring Vitaly in to replace Jarno, but it was one we made to ensure that we give fresh impetus across the whole team and 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 F1 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,” he added.

“I have been training hard all winter and am ready to get back into the cockpit and go to work. 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,” Petrov remarked.