Russian Vitaly Petrov looks likely to stay in formula one next year following the rebranding of his 2010 employer as Lotus Renault GP.

With the 26-year-old rookie in the cockpit financed by his personal backers, the Enstone based team then benefitted from new Russian sponsors including Vyborg Shipyard, Flagman vodka and the carmaker Lada.

And media reports, including the Malaysian state news agency Bernama, said Group Lotus parent Proton will also "benefit immensely" from the Renault team buy-in "by gaining access to Russia's automotive market and automotive technologies owned by (team owneer) Genii".

As the highest profile Russian link, Petrov might now be feeling more secure for 2011.

Proton confirmed: "Genii is ... offering Proton the ability to leverage on its existing business relationships in Russia and other parts of the world as a means to expand (our) global reach."

Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar admitted on BBC radio on Wednesday that Russian Petrov is well-placed to keep his seat in 2011.

"Our preferred choice is Vitaly Petrov," he said, "but I hope that the team will be able to announce by the end of the year the final lineup."

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