Supporters of Russia’s only Formula 1 driver, Vitaly Petrov, have written an open letter to the country’s president, begging Vladimir Putin to find sponsors for the driver so he can remain in motor sport’s premier series.
"I address you with a situation that requires your immediate personal intervention,” the letter said. “We all remember how you tested a racing car dressed in a Formula 1 driver’s uniform and what a response it found in the hearts of millions of Russian fans. Thousands of our citizens, who want to be proud of Russia's high-tech achievements, are turning to you for help to Vitaly Petrov or any other talented racer, capable of representing Russia in Formula 1. Please help them find sponsors capable of offering mutually beneficial long-term contracts for our representatives in F1.”
The letter appeared in the blog of racing fan Murat Shidakov and was later signed by nearly 400 people.
Petrov, Russia’s first and only F1 driver, is now in his third year in the sport, with a podium finish in Australia in 2011 being his best result.
The racer’s manager, Oksana Kosachenko, has repeatedly said that the current season may be the last in the series for her client.
Insufficient support from sponsors is most likely to prevent the 28-year-old from prolonging his deal with Caterham or moving to another team in 2013.
According to Championat.ru, Petrov would require from 10 to 20 million euro in order to go on with his F1 career.
Putin is known for his support of athletes and sports teams. He recently orchestrated financial deals for CSKA Moscow hockey club and football side FC Tom.