The Renault Formula One Team looks ahead to this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. After a good race at Malaysia, where Vitaly Petrov was forced to retire, the Russian is looking forward to finish the race at Shanghai.
Vitaly, you made another strong start to the race in Malaysia. How did it feel from the cockpit?
"When you start the race just outside the top ten, it’s hard to overtake as many cars as I did in Bahrain or Australia, but I still made up a couple of positions. I felt very comfortable in the first part of the race and enjoyed some good fights with the cars around me, especially with Hamilton. We then made an early pit stop and changed to the prime tyres, which was probably a mistake because I struggled for grip compared with the options. But in the end it didn’t matter because my race ended with the gearbox problem."
You’re now three races into your F1 career; are you pleased with how things are going? "I’m pleased with my relationship with the team, especially with the engineers who have really helped me adapt to Formula 1. I’ve been spending as much time as I can with them talking about the systems on the car, the set-up and where we can improve. On the other hand, it has been frustrating not to finish the races, especially retiring so early in Bahrain and Australia, which has limited my experience. At the moment I only know what it feels like to complete half a race in terms of managing the tyres and adapting to the changing fuel load so that’s not ideal."
The next race is in Shanghai - what do you think of the circuit? "I’ve raced there in GP2 so I don’t need to worry about learning the track. It’s a challenging circuit with a lot of different corners, which makes it a very technical circuit and difficult to find the right set-up. There are lots of long corners, such as turn 13, where your car understeers and it’s hard to get on the power, which always feels frustrating. Of course, I’ve only experienced the circuit in GP2 and I’m sure it will be even more challenging in an F1 car."
What targets do you have in mind for this weekend? "The priority is to try and finish the race and get the experience of a race distance. I also want to get closer to the top ten and hopefully fight for points in the race. I also need to continue working hard on my qualifying performance so that I can make it through to Q2, and hopefully Q3."