Vitaly Petrov, the Renault F1 Team's rookie driver, looks forward to this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka track. The young Russian is aware that he will have to show his team what he can do in the final races to assure his seat with Renault next year.
Vitaly, sum up your feelings after your first F1 night race in Singapore… "It was a challenging weekend for me and frustrating not to get the result we could have done. The start of the race was very good and I moved up to tenth, and it was a good tactic by the team to call me in when the safety car came out. After my pit stop I was in a good position with Webber and Glock just in front of me, but then there was the incident with Hülkenberg, which cost me three positions and destroyed my race. Without this I could have finished maybe eighth."
How have you spent the time between Singapore and Japan? Did you go back to Europe? "Yes, I came back straight after the race. I did some training as usual and then I came to the UK to visit the factory for a few days to meet with my engineers and discuss what happened in Singapore and to learn from it. Of course, we have also been doing our preparation for Suzuka and the engineers have given me some data from last year to look at."
Are you excited about going to Suzuka, one of the classic tracks on the calendar? "I know it’s a very famous circuit and it’s nice to go there for the first time. It’s hard for me to say more because I really don’t know what to expect. It will be a totally new experience for me, but I know already from talking with my engineers that it’s quite a tricky circuit. I hope the car will be good there, but the start of the lap looks very quick and challenging with lots of changes of direction. If you get one corner wrong, you really suffer in the other corners. I think it’s also important we make sure the f-duct works well there because a lot of the lap is full throttle and the straights are quite long."
You’re coming to the end of your first season as an F1 driver. Are you happy with how things are going? "The recent races have not been easy for me, and I think it’s down to my lack of experience and some bad luck. I’m working hard and improving, especially with my feedback and understanding the car, but this has not been translated into the results. Now I need to show the team what I can do in the final races and show that I deserve to stay here next year."