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Filed under: Motorsports, Hirings/Firings/Layoffs

The off-season in Formula 1 is not without its typical game of musical chairs: this driver moves there, that one is axed in favor of another, and some are left without a seat when the music starts again. But typically once the cars are launched, the contracts are signed and that's that. So when Caterham beat its rivals to the punch by unveiling its new car, we figured we'd heard the last of the driver shuffles for the season. But that wasn't to be the case.

Although the team had Jarno Trulli signed for the coming season, it has announced instead that the F1 veteran has been replaced by Vitaly Petrov, the Russian driver recently axed by Lotus - which is, somewhat ironically, the same team with which Caterham was embroiled in a naming rights dispute. The benefit of adding Petrov - a promising but largely unproven driver - to a small team over the experienced Trulli is that Petrov brings significant sponsorship money with him.

Trulli's dismissal leaves F1 without any Italian drivers on the grid for the first time since the early 1970s. The 37-year-old former grand prix winner was joined on the grid for much of his 15-year career in F1 by Giancarlo Fisichella until his effective retirement to a role as Ferrari test driver two seasons ago. Trulli insists he will continue racing, whether in F1 or elsewhere. We hear Pirelli might have use for his talents, but wouldn't be surprised to see him find his way into another racing series altogether. Follow the jump for the official announcement.

In related news, remaining holdout HRT has confirmed that Narain Karthikeyan will join longtime McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa in its line-up for the coming season, sealing the roster for 2012 - that is, assuming no further contracts are canceled at the last minute.Continue reading Caterham axes Trulli in favor of Petrov before season starts

Caterham axes Trulli in favor of Petrov before season starts originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 20 Feb 2012 16:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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