That is the claim of Gerard Lopez, owner of the Lotus team that has ousted the Russian driver after two seasons.
He told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport that Petrov, who is now seeking an alternative race seat but may have to be content with the Pirelli test role, felt too comfortable in 2011.
“We had the feeling that he thought ‘If I keep delivering my sponsors’ money to the team, I’ll be there for the next five years’.
“But that’s not the way formula one works,” added Lopez, “where you have to work hard at everything.
“So I think Vitaly needed an electric shock — whether he has to pause for a year now or he gets something at another team, it (losing his seat) will help him.”
Lopez said Romain Grosjean, the new GP2 champion who is replacing Petrov, got his ‘shock’ at Renault in 2009.
“Romain was in a similar situation to Petrov,” said the Luxembourger. “He believed everything would take care of itself. Afterwards, we watched him very carefully.
“Then we thought he had earned a second chance,” added Lopez.
Yet another similar case, the businessman argues, is Bruno Senna, who was drafted in last year to replace Nick Heidfeld but for 2012 has had to switch to Williams.
“I remember in India he was about to go to the grid in fourteenth place and he was in good spirits. I thought ‘this cannot be’.
“When you’re 14th in qualifying you need to be annoyed, wondering what has gone wrong,” said Lopez.