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Kubica sees the funny side at Renault launch

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Sarah Holt | 10:42 UK time, Monday, 1 February 2010

Robert Kubica doused his first media interviews for Renault with plenty of his characteristic dry wit at the team's car launch in Valencia.

The 25-year-old Pole signed as a replacement for his Ferrari-bound best pal Fernando Alonso but when rumours emerged at the end of the season that Renault were considering quitting F1 - just like his then employers BMW Sauber - Kubica was forced to consider his position.

Looking back now, as he puts the new Renault through its paces in Valencia at the start of pre-season testing, Kubica can only see the funny side of his scenario and raised huge guffaws from the gathered media.

"I have a funny story about Abu Dhabi," Kubica explained. "Some journalist came up to me and said 'Renault are going to retire from F1 why didn't you sign up with Toyota?'"

"Two days later Toyota retired. Maybe he misunderstood the names."

Another journalist in Spain also got a taste of Kubica's sarcasm when he asked him how he felt about not being able to challenge for wins with Renault in the upcoming season.

Oh, do you know already who will fight for the top?" Kubica asked.

"There are names like Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull but you never know. We have a good programme for February to improve the car so I hope I will get a quick prospect to fight at the top."

Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov pose with the new Renault F1 car at Valencia

Kubica may be an old hand at dealing with the media but Vitaly Petrov was full of wide-eyed innocence as he was presented as Renault's second driver.

The Russian rookie let the cat out of the bag by sitting in Renault's motor home for much of the afternoon before the official launch and he was pretty open in his first interview too.

The 25-year-old is believed to be bringing £9m in backing and he revealed his father Alexander has fully-funded his F1 foray.

"He has put the money for me to be here," said Petrov. "There are no sponsors, no-one was helping from Russia but my father, who owns some hotels and businesses, and his friends were always putting in to help me."

Despite Papa Petrov's pushy parent tendencies, he has succeeded in getting his son all the way into F1 after encouraging him to take up motor sport as a boy.

When he was asked what motivated him to target a career in F1, Petrov responded: "Just my father. He bought me a car and then took me for normal road training. When I was five years old I was driving along without my father.

"But as a boy I didn't think about F1, I didn't know about Michael Schumacher or anybody else.

"Then I started being interested and started to learn jump-by-jump through the formulas.

"In 2008 my father said "are you ready for Formula 1?" but I said not yet because I still need time to understand, but in 2009 it changed a lot."

Unlike the majority of the grid, Petrov did not start his schooling by racing karts but began his career racing in the Russian Lada Cup eight years ago.

From there he joined the European single-seater series and finished as runner-up to new Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg in last year's GP2 Series before his big leap into F1.

Petrov Sr has not come to see how his son's first F1 test goes but Vitaly expects him to come to plenty of races this season to see if his high stakes gamble pays off.

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