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.”

2011 Australian Grand Prix

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

  1. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 28th March 2011, 23:27

    I’m sick of all this talk of “What could Kubica have done?”, as if he could somehow challenge for victory in the car simply because he had the upper hand over Petrov all year. But let’s be perfectly honest here: the Petrov we saw in Melbourne was not the same man as we saw in 2010. He has not remained constant, which means the gap to Kubica will have closed. If Kubica were racing, it’s unlikely he would have done much better than Petrov. He might have qualified fourth or fifth at best, and he probably would have finished third, closer to Hamilton than Petrov was, but certainly not in front of him.

    But most importantly, Robert Kubica isn’t racing and won’t be for some time. It’s pointless to speculate as to where he would be on the grid and in the race, so let’s just give Petrov the respect he deserves for such a fine drive, rather than undermining him by comparing him to a team-mate who is sidelined.

    • statix said on 28th March 2011, 23:45

      speculating is pointless? so all the winter talking is pointless? :)

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 29th March 2011, 0:01

        Yes, it is pointless. Robert Kubica is not going to drive the R31 any time soon. He may not drive it at all. So what good does wondering how he would have fared do? All it does is take away from Petrov’s acheivements.

    • Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 29th March 2011, 1:29

      But let’s be perfectly honest here: the Petrov we saw in Melbourne was not the same man as we saw in 2010.

      I hate to admit it, as I was one of the one of Petrov’s critics last year (justifiably so, in my opinion), but whatever Vitaly has been doing over the winter has worked wonders. In his last two Grands Prix he’s had two very impressive performances. I hesitate to hail him as the next big thing just yet as it’s still very early days but if he keeps this form up through the first half of the season, I will no longer doubt his ability to perform at the highest level.

      • Prisoner Monekys said on 29th March 2011, 6:03

        whatever Vitaly has been doing over the winter has worked wonders

        A lot. For one, Renault had him move closer to the factory in Enstone. He was previously living in Valencia, because that’s where Barwa Addax is based. He was signed so late in the 2009-10 off-season that he had no time to relocate.

        Secondly, they wanted him to improve his English vocabulary. They specifically wanted him to learn the language of racing. He probably had the worst English on the grid last season; I saw Martin Brundle’s interview with him in Melbourne last year, and his English was very fractured. Compare that to his comments post-qualifying and post-race this year, and he’s very articulate. They no doubt had people in the team learn a little Russian as well.

        Finally, he’s got a new racing engineer for this season. Mark Slade previously ran his car, but he’s gone over to Mercedes. Renault have gotten someone new in for Petrov, so he’s had a chance to establish a bond with his engineer.

        And then, of course, there is the two-year deal with the team that offers him job security and less pressure.

        • TheGreatCornholio said on 30th March 2011, 18:43

          We all believed keeping him on was a business decision but i always felt he showed just enough potential last year to warrant another crack. I’ll admit to being surprised when they offered him a 2 year deal though! At least they’ve been clever enough to invest some time and rescources in him. Not having Robert’s shadow cast over him could be a great help and prepare him for Robert’s eventual (fingers crossed) return.

  2. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 29th March 2011, 3:56

    The team have mixed feeling.They made a good car but the driver they expected to take the charge didn’t.They need to work on that. Good race for Petrov.My driver of the day.Just carry the momentum.

  3. Daniel said on 29th March 2011, 7:41

    Petrov has become at least as good as Kubica I think. And Renault showed that they’re able to build great F1 cars. Still, with only one driver this year, Renault won’t fight with Ferrari although Petrov finished ahead of Alonso. Perhaps Renault should make an offer for Nico…

    • Victor. said on 29th March 2011, 16:22

      Saying that Petrov has become at least as good as Kubica is a *bit* over the top if I’m honest…

  4. Babis1980 said on 29th March 2011, 11:26

    Great stuff yet again from Nick Heifeld!!! :) He has the gift to bring out the best of his team mates. First Kubica, last year Kamui and now Petrov!!!! If he won’t outqualify Petrov in Malaysia I bet that we will see Brunno in a Renault Lotus cockpit as soon as Turkey….

  5. I want to know what on earth happened to Heidfeld’s car. Looks like he hit a badger, or something.

  6. Oliver said on 29th March 2011, 12:39

    Had Kubica been in the race, it is doubtful Petrov would haVe got the type of engineering support he got this weekend. Renault have always had the policy of supporting only one driver and leaving the other one to sort himself out. What they forget is that any points their drivers score, benefits the team as a whole.
    Perhaps they have learned that it pays to help both drivers to extract the most from the cars, rather than expecting a driver to prove himself before he gets the support full team support.

    • zawisza said on 29th March 2011, 21:49

      Nick failed. Perhaps he was left alone to prove himself, don’t you think? BTW they grabbed WCC twice, right? How? They simply forget

      that any points their drivers score, benefits the team as a whole.

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