Petrov rewards Renault faith


Mat Coch writes:

Before qualifying it's fair to say Renault would have expected its team to be led by Nick Heidfeld. In the wake of Robert Kubica's rallying accident in February, the German was brought in to the team because of his experience, but come Saturday afternoon it was his teammate whose name was nearer the top of the timing sheets.

Entering his second season Vitaly Petrov can consider himself somewhat fortunate to still be in the job. Having been comprehensively beaten by Kubica in 2010 it was only during the final stages of the championship that the Russian began to demonstrate any real promise.

His season culminated in Abu Dhabi, where the Russian endured the wrath of Fernando Alonso when the frustrated Ferrari driver was unable to find a way by.

Third place in today's Australian Grand Prix has gone some way to repay the faith the team showed in him in what is clearly the strongest drive of his short career.

A strong start which catapulted Petrov from sixth to fourth, laid the foundation for a race which ultimately saw the first Russian driver standing on a Formula One podium. It wasn't straightforward however, with a resurgent Alonso hunting down the Renault in the closing stages.

At times lapping more than a second faster than Petrov the late charge brought the race to a crescendo as the laps wound down, a thrilled team welcoming their man's best result

However the result was more than just a third place for a team that has endured so much in recent months. "I am utterly delighted for everyone in the team because it has not been easy getting here," said Technical Director James Allison.

"All weekend was pretty good for us," added Petrov. "We just focused on our race and today the team did everything perfectly and we must be proud about our place today."

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Published: 27/03/2011
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