Global Motorsport Media
Jan.25 (GMM) A hundred F1 journalists are in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday at Pirelli's behest -- but Vitaly Petrov stole the show.
The former Renault driver's appearance at the 2012 tyre launch was a complete surprise, stirring obvious speculation he will be the official supplier's new main test driver.
Indeed, the Russian news agency Ria Novisti quoted his manager Oksana Kosachenko as confirming the news.
That story was then corrected and finally withdrawn.
Kosachenko said Petrov is actually still holding out hope of a race seat -- surely the one currently occupied by Jarno Trulli at Caterham.
But she hinted the only vacancy for 2012 is at HRT.
"I don't comment on rumors," Kosachenko said, "but for those in the know about formula one, it's totally clear where Vitaly could end up.
"All you need to do it take a look at the driver list, and it's totally clear.
"I won't hide it, the main issue at the moment is over our partners and sponsors, whether they will support the programme we are offering," she said.
"Unfortunately, we are running out of time. There is a chance that Vitaly will end up in a formula one team, even as the lead pilot."
Petrov told reporters at the Yas Marina circuit that he cannot say anything for another week.
"Maybe I will not test Pirelli but maybe we can work together in different parts," he said.
The BBC quoted a Pirelli official as saying a deal with Petrov is "not signed yet but probable".