Jan.27 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Vitaly Petrov is still in the running for a 2012 race seat.

Officially, the only remaining vacancy is at HRT, the struggling Spanish team.

“HRT?” the Russian and former Renault driver is quoted by the Spanish sports daily AS.

“I can’t say anything about that.”

The AS interviewer asked Petrov if that means the former Hispania team is out of the question.

“The answer is not no, the answer is that I can’t say anything.”

The more conventional wisdom among F1 insiders is that Petrov and his manager Oksana Kosachenko are convincing their sponsors to pay to oust Jarno Trulli at Caterham.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said Adrian Sutil is also a contender for that seat, but only pending the outcome of his forthcoming assault trial.

“I want to stay in F1,” Petrov admitted, “because if I lose a year it will be very difficult to return in 2013.

“It is very important to stay on the grid. My manager is in Europe trying to find a place.”

It is obvious that his fallback option is to be Pirelli’s 2012 test driver.

“I was asked to be part of this event,” Petrov said at the launch of the tyre supplier’s 2012 season in Abu Dhabi this week.

“… Drive the cars, work with them, maybe we can reach an agreement but I still want to be at the Jerez test with a team, that is goal number one.”

Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat quoted Petrov as also admitting that a reserve driver role is a possibility for 2012.

O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio, meanwhile, said that Petrov – with the inaugural Russian grand prix on the horizon and the driver backed personally by Vladimir Putin – is also enjoying Bernie Ecclestone’s help in his bid to stay on the grid.