LONDON, Feb 17, 2012 (AFP) - Formula One outfit Caterham have axed veteran Italian driver Jarno Trulli after signing Russia's Vitaly Petrov, it was confirmed on Friday.
Trulli, 37, now faces a spell on the sidelines of the sport after 15 seasons in Formula One that have encompassed more than 250 grands prix.
Caterham's decision to opt for Petrov means the Formula One grid will be without an Italian driver for the first time since 1969.
Caterham is owned by Malaysian tycoon Tony Fernandes, who also owns English Premier League football club Queens Park Rangers. The Formula One outfit was rebranded as Caterham this season after competing under the Team Lotus banner in 2011.
Fernandes said Trulli had made an important contribution to the team's initial development but had been let go in order to allow the marque to access new markets.
"Jarno knew that when he joined us it would be a very different environment to where he had been before," Fernandes said.
"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 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 Formula One 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."