Renault rookie Vitaly Petrov has admitted that his goal is to see the chequered flag, after enduring three DNFs in the first three grands prix of his top flight career – as it emerges that the Russian has been instructed by his team to lose some weight to bring him more in line with similarly tall but 10kg lighter team-mate Robert Kubica.
Against all expectations, Renault currently sit a commendable fifth in the constructors’ standings, but all 30 of the outfit’s points have been notched up by former Canadian GP-winner Kubica.
The Pole finished a superb second in Melbourne and a strong fourth in Sepang last weekend, but Petrov by contrast has yet to reach the finish line at all, having exited the fray due to suspension failure in Bahrain, a spin in Australia and gearbox woes in Malaysia – making him one of only three drivers in the field not to have made it to the end of any of the three races.
There are also still some issues with the 25-year-old’s qualifying pace, after he started from the ninth row of the grid in his first two outings while Kubica made the top 10. Eleventh place in Sepang did mark something of an step forwards, however – and Petrov’s blistering starts, overtaking prowess and fighting spirit have undoubtedly caught the eye, particularly his gutsy and dogged refusal to let former F1 World Champ Lewis Hamilton go in Malaysia.
“We’re improving the car all the time and some new aerodynamic parts are working,” said the man dubbed the ‘Vyborg Rocket’. “The car has improved a lot, but we need more time to understand where we are and to improve more for the next races. At the moment we’re still not as quick as we want to be, but we’re working on that.
“Everything is different [between GP2 – in which Petrov finished as runner-up in 2009 – and F1], not just things like the acceleration and braking. It’s another world, with people working all the time and pushing very hard. It’s possible to improve all parts of the car all the time. It’s going OK, but we’re yet to finish a race, so we have to do that to understand things properly. [To score points in] Barcelona would be difficult, but we can always try.”