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 time comparison (Q1)||1’27.239 (+1.696)||1’25.543|
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.
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?óÔé¼Ôäóm 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?óÔé¼Ôäót 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?óÔé¼Ôäóm totally ecstatic.”
2011 Australian Grand Prix
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