Renault: Petrov makes progress, Senna slips back

2011 Japanese GP team review

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The Renault drivers shared the fifth row of the grid but finished with six cars between them.

Bruno Senna Vitaly Petrov
Qualifying position 9 10
Qualifying time comparison (Q2) 1’32.297 (+0.052) 1’32.245
Race position 16 9
Laps 53/53 53/53
Pit stops 2 2

Renault drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):

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
Bruno Senna 110.053 103.785 103.764 104.222 103.786 102.456 103.251 102.659 103.095 102.469 103.375 104.515 104.997 104.935 105.835 124.214 102.69 100.9 101.155 102.436 101.809 102.501 101.536 123.867 125.292 104.741 147.675 103.415 105.239 102.445 101.293 101.178 100.434 101.276 103.331 117.258 100.049 98.552 99.312 98.693 98.471 98.407 98.554 99.16 98.713 99.639 98.694 98.799 99.32 99.53 99.685 101.094 101.501
Vitaly Petrov 108.306 103.217 102.82 102.48 102.424 102.159 102.392 102.594 102.626 103.212 102.743 103.775 102.663 102.252 103.518 102.7 102.887 104.991 118.701 101.146 101.86 101.071 100.952 119.57 126.113 120.087 150.034 104.166 100.679 100.47 101.977 99.884 100.32 100.02 100.74 100.645 99.692 99.755 101.881 114.683 97.256 97.46 97.357 98.715 99.7 100.135 97.053 98.418 97.14 97.542 97.271 98.176 97.606

Bruno Senna

Bruno Senna, Renault, Suzuka, 2011
Start tyre Medium
Pit stop 1 Medium 25.927s
Pit stop 2 Soft 22.466s

Senna used Renault’s slimmer rear bodywork in practice and retained it for the race. But the team had to make rapid repairs to his car following a crash in the last session before qualifying.

The repairs were completed in time for him to get on the track and secure a place in Q3. With neither he nor his team mate setting times at the end of the session the pair started on row five.

Senna slipped behind Petrov at the start then got onto the grass at the exit of turn two: “Vitaly squeezed me a little bit in the second corner, which made it tricky for me to recover.”

He dropped down to 13th and, on medium tyres, couldn’t keep the Williams pair behind him. By lap five he was 15th.

The team kept him out until lap 15 but he emerged from a slow pit stop in 18th place.

He got onto soft tyres when he made his final pit stop on lap 35. The Lotuses and Williams dropped behind him during their pit stops, but Rubens Barrichello recovered to re-take the position.

Having switched to soft tyres four laps before Petrov he found them going off quickly towards the end of the race, and he finished in 16th.

Bruno Senna 2011 form guide

Vitaly Petrov

Start tyre Medium
Pit stop 1 Medium 21.304s
Pit stop 2 Soft 20.832s

Petrov did not use the revised Renault bodywork, the team saying this was because his driving style uses higher revs, requiring more cooling.

He ran the same strategy as Senna but held his place at the start. On lap 15 Michael Schumacher used his DRS to take seventh place off him. Three laps later, Petrov was in for his first pit stop.

Following the safety car period he was passed by Sergio Perez and Paul di Resta at the restart. Three laps after that Adrian Sutil and Nico Rosberg also came past.

He made his final pit stop on lap 39: “When I put on the soft tyres towards the end of the race I felt so much grip; I smiled then I pushed a lot.”

On lap 46 he used DRS to pass di Resta, then he repeated the move on Kamui Kobayashi on the following lap.

His next target was Sutil, who he passed on lap 49. “It’s a pity Sergio was just too far ahead,” he said after finishing ninth.

Vitaly Petrov 2011 form guide

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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    20 comments on “Renault: Petrov makes progress, Senna slips back”

    1. Solid race from Petrov. He did a great job to come out of that midfield melee on top and those two points could be crucial in their fight to keep ahead of Force India in the constructors championship.

      I don’t think I can see Vitaly progressing up the grid more than he is now, though. He’s a safe pair of hands and can deliver the goods, but I don’t think he has that extra something required to put him on the radar of the top teams.

      1. Yeah, Petrov did some really nice passing this weekend! I think he is a very solid driver by now, good for any team and bringing some sponsor interest as well.

        Interesting thing with the revs there as well

        Petrov did not use the revised Renault bodywork, the team saying this was because his driving style uses higher revs, requiring more cooling.

      2. I was thinking the same of Petrov, he had a good second half of the race, whereas Senna simply was too slow, maybe for the first time since he returned.

      3. safe pair of hands

        Ha, a year ago that was literally the last phrase we’d use to associate with Petrov. That was what he needed to do this year, undo that association. And he has.

        1. That didn’t make any sense at all. But you get my point…

      4. @dan-thorn Aside from his airborne incident in Malaysia he’s been pretty faultless with bringing the car home in one piece so it its good to see him reliable in that respect.

    2. Which combined with his heavy bag of money makes him a perfect number two for any team.

    3. Petrov made much less mistake this year and has good pace. Now who will be the 2nd driver of Renault next year?

    4. Senna hasn’t done himself anygood has he?? I am concerned if this continues at Korea. Could be the week that makes or breaks him…

      1. He’s generally been fairly solid. It seems he wasn’t helped by an unfortunate start.

      2. Oh come on! 3 excellent weekends (better than Petrov and he’d only driven the car 2 or 3 times) followed by one bad one, and you write him off already?! Have you decided that Schumacher and Hamilton should quit after a few bad runs? Or Webber? Or Vettel, after a (by his standards) poor result? No? Didn’t think so. People are so quick to bash poor Bruno, it’s very irritating.

        1. hahaha, that’s true .. seems like these guys were just waiting for a poor result from Senna to start complaining …

          Alguersuari also had a terrible weekend and no one says **** about him ..

        2. @pielighter I don’t think that’s a mindset exclusive towards Senna, just a general lack of patience. Any athlete outside his usual comfort zone takes some adjusting. A real test of their ability is how quickly they adapt to their new comfort zone.

    5. It is a bit early to write off Senna. The Renaults have been in dog world lately and they are proving to be a dud. One ca not even comment on performance of either one in Singapore. Write that race off.
      Lets blame Renault for not getting it right. The drivers are fine.

    6. When I saw the start what caused the issue for Bruno was a poor start by Kobayashi. Bruno was behind him on the grid and when Kobayashi got away slowly Bruno’s start was compromised as he had no where to go and a few cars slipped up the inside including Petrov. I think to start on the medium compound the plan had to be to keep your position and hold the pack up as legally as possible until you can get the Softs on. Unfortunately once there were cars ahead with the softs on it became near impossible to get ahead of them and he became frustrated. I do feel however in my opinion that Bruno was not relaxed as he has been and slipping down the pack hurt his confidence. He then over-drove and made mistakes during the GP including the poor Pit Stop. My advice to Bruno – 1. Be more aggressive – hold people up – don’t let them pass you so easily – DRS does not mean you have to move out the way – 2. See a gap go for it. He sat behind cars too long that he had the pace to get past. Once you are within half a second of someone you should get past. It is a race not a rally – attack attack attack. Paul Di Resta and Petrov do not sit there and wait until the next DRS slot comes up – 3. He needs to race a little more – Like the top 5 do. The guy is quick – we see that in qualifying but he crumbles in the race. Get a bit mean behind the wheel and don’t get frustrated and give up. Summary – Good considering his experience but he needs to stop making qualifying into Q3 sound like he has won the race. Points and how you race is what counts and this is where Petrov has the edge. I hope he recovers mentally from the bashing he is probably giving himself. He is a lovely guy and Renault are supporting him but he needs to be a bit more aggressive. 5/10 for Japan – More effort required in race

    7. Renualt need to come up with something for 2012.This is the team that is sloping downward since the Spanish GP.Not sure whether it’s the team or the drivers that aren’t performing.

      1. @wasiF1 I don’t think their front-blowing exhaust is proving as effective as they would have liked. Plus, Renault pulling on them won’t have helped their financial situation.

    8. A good race from Petrov, certainly better than Singapore! I always like to see him in the points but gone are the days of Renault podiums :(

    9. I think the tyre strategy was disappointing. Starting on the harder tyres may work if there is nothing to lose, but with both cars in the top 10, they had everything to lose. At least one driver should have started on the softer tyres. Senna’s race shows what can go wrong: being slow at the beginning of the race (he was even passed by the Williams drivers who also started on the harder tyres) and losing even more track position because of his late pitstop. Petrov did an amazing job in recovering to ninth place, illustrated by his quote:

      “When I put on the soft tyres towards the end of the race I felt so much grip; I smiled then I pushed a lot.”

      One may wonder what would have happened if he was allowed to run three stints instead of just one on the softer tyres.

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