Petrov is first Russian F1 driver

1/31/2010 - Formula 1

VALENCIA, Spain -- Renault brought back its vintage black and yellow colors for its 2010 Formula One car, looking to shake off memories of last season's crash scandal.

The French team had an awful 2009 that featured poor results on the track and controversy off of it when it emerged that Nelson Piquet Jr. was ordered to crash his car at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to help his teammate win.

"We really wanted to come back to something that was essential -- that's racing," team owner Gerard Lopez said Sunday. "We insisted on it looking this way: back to history. That's a very positive message we're sending out."

New drivers Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov -- the first Russian driver to enter the sport -- unveiled the R-30 car at the Cheste Circuit with a return to the distinctive look that graced its cars between 1977-1985.

"Today we clearly showed that we've turned a page," said new team principal Eric Boullier, who replaced Flavio Briatore after the crash scandal. "There is a lot of work, the challenge is high. The objectives are to be fighting at the top, hopefully on the podium."

Kubica, who arrives from BMW Sauber, will be expected to take on the brunt of the work in terms of helping develop the R30 as the Polish driver goes into his fourth full season.

"I hope they will give me a quick prospective to fight at the top -- not a long one," said Kubica, who had a disappointing season last year in a noncompetitive car with BMW Sauber. "It might take time, I don't know how long it will take. You can never be 100 percent sure you will achieve what you are targeting."

Renault's suddenly all-Eastern European lineup is part of a plan to tap into the Russian market as it looks for sponsors after losing both ING and Mutua Madrilena following last season's scandal.

"Now I think [Russians] will see us in Formula One and it will change things," said Petrov, who finished runner-up in feeder series GP2 last year.

The team also has its sights on Asia after picking Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung to be its third driver. Belgium's Jerome d'Ambrosio and Jan Charez of the Czech Republic were selected as reserves.

Lopez said the vintage look could change if the team finds a title sponsor. At the moment, 83 percent of its budget for the season has been secured.

"Money isn't everything. The team is well-placed," said Kubica, who replaced Fernando Alonso. "I think we have comfort that we have enough money to do our job. Teams that are winning don't always have the highest budget."