Petrov fires Renault with fine drive to first podium

2011 Australian GP team review

Vitaly Petrov demonstrated Renault’s potential by beating Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber to claim his first ever podium finish.

But team mate Nick Heidfeld suffered a trying weekend in his first appearance for the team.

Nick Heidfeld Vitaly Petrov
Qualifying position 18 6
Qualifying time comparison (Q1) 1’27.239 (+1.696) 1’25.543
Race position 12 3
Laps 57/58 58/58
Pit stops 2 2

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58
Nick Heidfeld 112.091 96.505 95.067 95.662 95.405 95.662 95.698 95.363 95.895 95.038 94.838 95.039 96.546 95.592 114.318 99.684 93.707 93.539 93.421 93.822 94.361 93.889 94.735 93.587 94.694 93.545 93.263 92.848 93.282 114.826 99.96 92.876 92.552 93.071 95.177 92.892 92.765 92.993 94.306 94.974 93.026 92.807 92.377 92.619 93.12 92.898 93.102 95.082 94.204 95.702 93.801 95.493 95.589 95.243 96.404 93.858 95.088
Vitaly Petrov 102.835 94.363 93.962 93.729 93.725 93.573 93.364 93.315 93.357 93.615 93.611 94.156 93.698 93.152 93.47 113.795 99.863 92.045 91.96 92.214 91.849 92.341 91.922 92.517 93.574 91.929 91.275 91.263 91.107 91.479 91.762 92.26 91.809 91.413 91.95 114.357 99.62 91.265 90.662 90.713 90.867 90.525 90.782 90.856 90.826 91.333 90.696 90.885 91.167 90.671 90.755 90.158 90.655 90.631 90.064 90.192 90.12 90.767

Nick Heidfeld

Heidfeld got caught up in traffic in the first part of qualifying and missed the cut for Q2 by a full second, leaving him 18th on the grid.

He made a good start and had already picked up four places as he accelerated out of the first corner.

But he was hit further around the lap, causing substantial damage to his right-hand side pod. Given the extent of the damage he was fortunate to finish the race at all.

Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Melbourne, 2011

Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Melbourne, 2011

Vitaly Petrov

Petrov gave notice of his potential when he went fifth fastest in the final practice session. He followed it up in qualifying by taking sixth despite having only one chance to set a time in Q3.

He got down the inside of Jenson Button and Alonso at the first corner and moved up to fourth.

From there on he generally had a quiet race, using a two-stop strategy to move ahead of the three-stopping Webber.

He was caught by Alonso and Webber late in the race but they didn’t have time to pass him.

Petrov became the first Russian driver to score a podium finish in F1. He said: “I?m delighted to be here on the podium, especially after the winter that we had as a team, which was very tough.

“Even during testing we didn?t really know where we were compared with the others, but we continued adding new parts to the car this weekend, and they worked pretty well.

“I made a great start today, which was probably the key for my race because it got me ahead of Alonso and Button, and I was able to run in some clean air and push hard, as well as looking after my tyres. Our two-stop strategy was clearly the right decision and we made it work

“I have to say a big thanks to everyone in the team for working so hard and for supporting my over the winter. This result is for all of us and I?m totally ecstatic.”

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83 comments on Petrov fires Renault with fine drive to first podium

  1. James (@jamesf1) said on 28th March 2011, 17:47

    I know this is being said quite a lot, and no disrespect to Petrov either, but where would Renault be with Kubica? Further up the podium…?

    I thought Heidfield was going to be leading the team, but it looks like Petrov has really risen to the occassion. He showed flashes of good pace last year and delivered the goods this weekend. Lets hope he can put simialr excellent drives this year.

    I’m not really a fan of Petrov, but I hope he proves his worth this season. Great result

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 28th March 2011, 17:50

      Kubica would have been 3rd and Petrov 4th I think.

      • zecks said on 28th March 2011, 18:00

        I doubt that petrov would have been much slower than kubica. He looked on very good form all weekend, and possibly without the pressure of Robert, he is making less mistakes. If he keeps detroying Heidfeld like this, nick will be the one without a seat come mid season

      • Merk said on 28th March 2011, 18:06

        I’m pretty sure Heidfeld was plagued with a KERS issue, not only in qualifying but also the race. Would explain the consistantly slower lap times.

        • RIISE (@riise) said on 28th March 2011, 18:11

          Heidfeid was heavily affected by traffic in Qualifying. As for the race the damage to the side of the car was a good explanation for his pace.

          • Victor. said on 28th March 2011, 18:33

            I think there’s no justification for his qualifying performance. He had 20 minutes to set a competitive lap time. Many drivers encountered traffic, yet managed to pull one lap together.

            I sense a repeat of 2008 coming, with Heidfeld blaming everything and everybody but himself for his inability to get his tyres up to temperature.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 29th March 2011, 8:24

            Hard to say in Qualifying. I do not really take these excuses with traffic. They should have better planned. It was the same for everyone.

            He did have the KERS problem, but he was hardly the only one.

            For the race, good job by Renault to make the car robust enough to keep running. I bet it payed off to let it run to the end if only to see what the damage would do for temperatures inside the sidepod what whith the exhaust running in there.

        • manB said on 29th March 2011, 6:34

          Dam man…. after Liuzzi here comes Nick
          Petrove was fast last year but just made rookie mistakes thats it. He would have beat Kubica here. He drove perfect on Sunday

          • Damon (@damon) said on 29th March 2011, 13:19

            “Petrov was fast last year but just made rookie mistakes thats it.”
            – No, he wasn’t fast. Mistakes or not, he was plain slow. 1 second on average.

            “He would have beat Kubica here”?

      • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 29th March 2011, 10:47

        If the KERS problem in quali and sidepod damage would have happened to Kubica like it did with Heidfeld then Kubica probably wouldn’t have made it into the points either.

    • Sush Meerkat said on 28th March 2011, 18:56

      I know this is being said quite a lot, and no disrespect to Petrov either, but where would Renault be with Kubica? Further up the podium…?

      I think its unfair to say that Kubica would thrash him, the cars are vastly different not to mention Petrov now having a year under his belt.

      and we can’t rule out the new tyres, maybe Petrov is a whizzkid on Pirelli’s?, remember 2007?, Kubica was nowhere and part of that reason is the 07 spec bridgestones hated his driving style.

    • I know this is being said quite a lot, and no disrespect to Petrov either, but where would Renault be with Kubica? Further up the podium…?

      Who knows. Petrov showed he could beat Kubica over a weekend when he wanted to but he was nowhere near consistent enough. Perhaps this would have been one of those weekends, maybe Kubica would have destroyed him or maybe he would have hated the tyres. I have no clue but Nick beat Kubica by 9 points in their time together I think so although he ran into trouble this weekend if Petrov continues to beat him then it’ll give us a good indication of how well Vitaly really is doing.

      • Hare said on 28th March 2011, 19:39

        It would physcially hurt me if Petrov was scoring serious points race after race, and we keep hearing the ‘What is Robert was here’ point brought up.

        That said, I hope Robert is doing very well, and if for any reason he’s reading a Britsh Fan site about his teammate doing really rather well.. Get Well Soon Robert! :)

        • snowman said on 28th March 2011, 20:43

          I also hope the ‘what if Robert was here’ isn’t brought up every time cause I think Petrov has improved. Became a bit of a fan of Petrov when he kept Alsono behind him in final race who I really don’t like! Was nice to see Petrov on BBC holding the trophy and showing how much it meant to him. Would be some story to season if he became championship contender after being nearly dumped last year.

        • It would physcially hurt me if Petrov was scoring serious points race after race, and we keep hearing the ‘What is Robert was here’ point brought up

          It would pain me too. I was in the opposite boat in 09 when every race Kimi was on the podium he was praised like mad when he only had Badoer as a team mate. Bottom line is we really don’t know how Robert would go compared to Petrov but we do have a team mate who gave Kubica a run for his money to compare the Russian against.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 29th March 2011, 8:28

          I bet Robert will be even more determined to get back into that car asap. Boullier told Petrov during the BBC interview, that Kubica had asked him to congratulate Petrov already.

          I agree with Steph about Petrov showing he has the speed. If he keeps consistancy he might be a very solid asset for the team.

          The prospect of having both Renaults fighting for podiums sounds really good for them.
          I don’t think Kubica would have a shot at beating Hamilton. His starts are good but not as rocket like as Petrov does them. He would possibly have got past Webber and Alonso during the race, but Lewis was at least another 15 seconds away.

      • Ben Curly said on 29th March 2011, 9:52

        Petrov showed he could beat Kubica over a weekend when he wanted to.

        Once. It only happened once. That’s not what I’d call “when he wanted to” ;)

    • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 29th March 2011, 17:22

      I wanted to be a fan last year, but as time went on, I started to lose faith and interest in rooting for him. But this is a good sign and if he can keep up these sorts of drives, my interest is very much renewed. I really hope he’s gotten over his hump.

  2. King Six said on 28th March 2011, 18:00

    Petrov would have screwed up and been somewhere in Q2 if Kubica was there, psychology plays a huge impact in sport.

    • butterdori (@butterdori) said on 28th March 2011, 18:43

      Well Bouiller mentioned in his interview that the team concentrated on that aspect of Petrov during winter, and according to him, Petrov has improved his concentration considerably.

    • kinz said on 29th March 2011, 1:01

      i agree on how psychology does have a huge effect on your performance in sport, we see that now with Massa in that every ‘bad’ result effects him much worse then normal, and just becomes a cycle.

  3. Dan Newton said on 28th March 2011, 18:06

    Very impressed with Petrov and it was great to see him so happy on the podium. If he can keep this performance up he’s gonna be great to watch. Funny thing is if Vettel had been punished for passing Button off track and Hamilton punished for the floor damage to his car, Petrov possibly may have won. Which would have been an interesting start to the season.

    • RIISE (@riise) said on 28th March 2011, 18:13

      You know I have been focusing on both points but forgot Petrov would’ve gone 1st…I actually wish it happened now.

      • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 28th March 2011, 19:46

        Petrov looked like a kid in a sweetshop on the podium, and was clutching his trophy with the biggest grin ive seen in F1 for some time. It was nice to see both a new person on the podium and that he’s taken a massive step forward. Good for him. He got enough speed down to get the position and looked after the car enough to ensure he kept it, nice mature drive. Now that he got that podium, I think we’l see him on the podium in a few more races this year.

        • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 28th March 2011, 22:38

          I agree, it was great to see someone in the press conference in total bliss, grinning ear to ear. It’s refreshing when Hamilton is sitting there in 2nd place looking completely miserable and pouting. I hope you’re right and we see more of him on the podium this year. Would be great to see him even win a race maybe…

  4. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 28th March 2011, 18:09

    Boullier doesn’t want to dig into this what if thinking and so should we. Robert is not there and Vitaly did his best drive. If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll be able to see them both on track this year.

    • Hare said on 28th March 2011, 19:02

      Exactly. How can you overshadow this guys performance with ‘What if Kubica was here’. He isn’t, it’s painful to think about it.. everyone including Kubica needs to go forward. The future is where it’s at.

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 28th March 2011, 22:42

        It’s certainly a massive drag that Kubica’s not racing, and it’s hard not to think about where he might’ve been this weekend, but I doubt Kubica’s doing that, so neither should we. He’ll be on his feet soon, so that’s something to be excited about!

  5. Scribe (@scribe) said on 28th March 2011, 18:16

    That’s a rather magnificent photo of Petrov giving it a bit of a double fist pump. The full pictures positivley iconic, the lights, the Lotus printed rear wing, the golden haze an the clear blue light. Absolutley wonderfull.

    • Hare said on 28th March 2011, 18:49

      i love the guy. I’m so pleased he came 3rd. He thoroughly deserved his finish.

      He seems like a trully nice guy as well, and going through what he went through last year, and having to see his teammate in the condition he was in, must have been heart breaking for him. No one wants to see that.

      I have a feeling both circumstances played to his attitude and he galvanised himself to perform better.

      His race was mature, ba;anced, pacy.. what more could you ask from him. I’m delighted for him.

      Not to mention, Russia has never had a driver in F1, and much less had a driver on the podium. The Russians I know where very excited, and I’m so pleased for them too. It’s a big deal!

    • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 29th March 2011, 10:51

      I just opened it up and I see what you mean! Wow.

  6. Victor. said on 28th March 2011, 18:29

    I think Kubica’s absence has done Petrov good. Kubica put an enormous amount of pressure on him to perform and that’s where the mistakes crept in. He was fighting a lost cause trying to match Kubica’s pace, really.

    • David BR said on 28th March 2011, 21:23

      True perhaps, but I think keeping Alonso behind him in the final race at Abu Dhabi last season played a huge part in building Petrov’s confidence.

      • Shomir said on 29th March 2011, 9:11

        True perhaps, but I think keeping Alonso behind him in the final race at Abu Dhabi last season played a huge part in building Petrov’s confidence.


  7. Eggry (@eggry) said on 28th March 2011, 18:41

    I think he gained some advantage from misfortune of others such as Button and Alonso. If there’s no problem with front runners, It’s hard to imagine he would get on podium more times. But I have to admit Renault car is good and Petrov drove very well in Melbourne.

    • Hare said on 28th March 2011, 19:00

      You gotta have the speed to be there. Heidfeld wasn’t with him all weekend. He gained the the traction off the line himself which gave him the speed to get past Button and Massa. Starting is an art in itself as Vettel showed and Hamilton lamented.

      • Eggry (@eggry) said on 28th March 2011, 19:10

        Yes, he started very well while some of big name failed. but still I think he would not get on podium as easy as today.

        • Hare said on 28th March 2011, 19:17

          No Podium is easy, all they would all be doing it ;)

          We’ll see, they had a good car in testing, and now he’s proved to himself what he can achived, he may have unlocked his potential at the same time as unlocking the car potential.

          This year is going to be more of a racers season for all those behind the front runner. The driver I belive, will have to work harder on other tracks al la Button and Massa.

          I suppose there is a grain of hope in that statement too :)

          • Hare said on 28th March 2011, 19:20

            * or they would all be doing it.
            * what he can achieve
            * unlocking the cars potential
            * The driver I believe

            Holy matrimony, one day my fingers will listen to my brain, the rebelious nitwits. ;)

        • Tom L. said on 29th March 2011, 11:15

          Easy? He got a better start than some supposedly faster cars and looked after his tyres better, meaning he didn’t have to pit so many times. Furthermore, he did this in consistent weather conditions and without safety cars or any other disrupting influences. I don’t think he lucked into it at all.

          • Eggry (@eggry) said on 29th March 2011, 13:09

            It was relatively easy. no one bother him after start, so he didn’t have to take any risk or pressure like Vettel and Hamilton. While Massa and Button are fighting, he gain 1s advantage from them. Yes, it’s not all luck but quite lucky.

  8. Confusing headline: Petrov fires Renault… wha!?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th March 2011, 18:48

      As in ‘fires up’. Not an uncommon phrase.

      • Hare said on 28th March 2011, 18:51

        haha, yeah, but not exactly the pinnicle of clarity in the context of a sport when people do get fired.

        It’s all good, didn’t confuse me. Mind, I didnt get ‘Petrov’ in my brain so.. :)

      • I know, I just panicked for a second because I saw the word ‘fired’ and thought the worst. Then I read it again.

      • English is my 4th language but it really didn’t confused me… Anyhow, I’m a Cement Plant Engineer by profession and a terms fires or firing used in running the machineries (well) specially in Kiln start-up (same thing with F1 car run by an internal combustion engine. Anyway, don’t know how it is in the west.. :)

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 28th March 2011, 18:53

      In Mother Russia, Petrov fires Renault.

      • Bwahahaha.

        • RIISE (@riise) said on 28th March 2011, 19:13

          LMAO!!! I love Mother/Soviet Russia jokes.

          • Hare said on 28th March 2011, 19:32

            Having dated a Russian girl for the last 18 months, I can assure they do eventually get old. The whole Russia Matushka thing, thumping the chest, countless ‘Vwoodka’ comments, and even inventing a charactor called ‘Vlad’.. I’ve been on the forefront of mocking Russian humour for sometime… :)

            It’s worth pointing out though, there’s been no ‘Mother Russia’ for 20 years since communism collapse. Though I know some serious Vodka alcaholics, so that story is still valid.

            The real humour now is how materialistic places like Moscow is, which is why cars like the Marussia are perfectly in keeping with many new Moscovites ideas that wealth is health. Even the new cafes need to look like palaces :)

            Anyways, I’ve said my piece. :)

          • LMAO. Great joke :)

            Great drive from Petrov. No mistakes, very good pace, staying cool at the end of the race with Alonso coming closer. I believe he could go a little faster to keep Alonso at bay if needed.
            His ability to gain places at the start will be very valuable if he manages to qualify in the top ten consistently.
            Renault have prepared a great car. I think Kubica would maybe be 2 or 3 tenths faster than Petrov but it seems Petrov will become a worthy lead driver for Renault.

    • Hairs (@hairs) said on 28th March 2011, 19:17

      Probably a joke on Keith’s part, after a year of “will they fire Petrov” rumours.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 28th March 2011, 19:27

      Hardly a confusing headline! How could you read it any other way? ;)

    • biofreak (@biofreak) said on 29th March 2011, 0:27

      In Soviet Russia the driver fires you!

  9. alonsodz said on 28th March 2011, 18:50

    you must thank Button; but I think you will kiss the wall next race

    • Hare said on 28th March 2011, 18:56

      Very cynical dude.

    • Gucha said on 28th March 2011, 20:15

      To counter your passive aggresive post, I should say it was a fair 3rd place. Alonso, Webber and Button were all there and did not retire, collide or encounter any mechanical difficulties. There was no rain, meteor shower or any other force majeure.

      Alonso admitted that he should have not gone left as there was no space and Button, indeed, pushed him further outside. But that is a driver’s decision. Massa made a better decision at the start and was 5th from 8th on the grid, Petrov made a better decision and was 4th from 6th on the grid.

      Deal with it. =)

  10. Butler258 said on 28th March 2011, 19:04

    IWas it just me or did the TV coverage totally miss Quick Nicks damage? I didnt see it either time i watched the race, and i saw a few people, including myself regretfully stating that he has been hopeless all weekend.

  11. maateos (@maateos) said on 28th March 2011, 19:05

    good job Petrov!
    he will present beter shape on next races than Nick.
    I think so

  12. Zarathustra said on 28th March 2011, 19:14

    First race was very poor for Heidfeld but I still believe he will end higher than Petrov in the end of the season.

    And all this “what if Kubica was there…” of course he would fight with Vettel and Hamilton, whole car was designed just for him.

  13. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 28th March 2011, 19:33

    Incredible stuff from Petrov. He was grasping that trophy like a kid at Christmas on the BBC F1 Forum.

    He seemed strong to me all weekend, kept himself out of trouble and had a great race that he worked hard for.

    Heidfeld was a bit of a no show but Petrov more than made up for it. He proved the car has the potential which is extremely important. I have no doubt Heidfeld will be more in the mix in the near future.

  14. Mads (@mads) said on 28th March 2011, 19:41

    A great race for him! I like the guy, i think he seems very down to earth and a genuinely nice bloke. And i don’t really see Kubica beating him that much if he had been there. Not that it is very relevant, but it seems like Kubica’s absence has taken some pressure of his shoulders and i think he has stepped up to the job. I thought Heidfeld would beat him, but Petrov just drove an amazing race. All weekend. superb performance.
    And i find it a little funny that Petrov seems to get in Alonso’s way quite a lot these days.
    Great job, and good to see a new boy on the podium. It is always a joy.

  15. Damon (@damon) said on 28th March 2011, 19:48

    It’s weird nobody mentioned that Petrov finished ahead of Alonso, again!

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