Petrov says Renault have made “a big step forward” with the R31.
|Bruno Senna||Vitaly Petrov|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’51.121 (-1.182)||1’52.303|
Renault drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
Made his debut for the team in place of Nick Heidfeld. It didn’t get off to a great start as he crashed in first practice.
But a good run in qualifiyng put him seventh on the grid, in front of Petrov.
He undid that good work within a few hundred metres of the start, sliding hard into Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso.
“I would like to say sorry to Jaime for that,” said Senna.
“I made a mistake in the braking area, so that meant I slipped back and couldn’t compete where I wanted to. This left me quite lonely at the back for a while.”
He finished 13th, but chief race engine Alan Permane praised his first race weekend for the team: “Bruno slipped up on his first corner, and this damaged his first set of tyres which set the scene for the rest of his race.
“Looking over his weekend, he did a fantastic job yesterday and it was always going to be a very difficult indoctrination racing on these tyres in dry conditions for the first time at this circuit.”
Petrov had a spin in qualifying and lined up tenth on the grid.
He fell behind Kamui Kobayashi at the start and followed the Sauber through the opening stint.
Petrov pitted before the safety car came out which ultimately cost him places to Michael Schumacher and Adrian Sutil. And he was defenceless against Jenson Button who came past on lap 18.
He had to nurse a braking problem late in the race which caused a spin at the final corner on the last lap. That allowed Felipe Massa through for eighth, Petrov crossing the line in ninth.
However he was encouraged by the progress the team had made with the car: “I think we’ve made a big step forward with the car, and you can see that I was in top ten contention for all of the race – and close to the Mercedes – so we need to keep working in this direction.
“Our strategy was good, however we lost out on our top speed which meant I found it very difficult to overtake. The car was very strong on the corners, and we were very good on the brakes until I had issues at the end.
“For the final laps I was driving differently to compensate for the brake concerns, but unfortunately I spun right at the end as I had totally lost my front brakes.”
2011 Belgian Grand Prix
Image © Renault/LAT