Renault believes Nelsinho Piquet 'could have been on the podium' in the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne at the weekend - but admitted that its overall performance was not up to scratch or expectations and has vowed to do better in Malaysia in just under a week's time.

Despite only beginning the race 14th - following the penalties meted out to McLaren-Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and the two Toyota drivers - Piquet benefited from the chaos at the start to immediately leap up into the top ten, and from thereon in he performed solidly, lying in seventh position at the time of the first safety car period.

However, his race would soon rapidly unravel, as at the re-start the Brazilian went for a pass on Nico Rosberg ahead of him, only to find he had no brakes as he approached turn one at high speed, sending him spinning into the gravel trap and ending his challenge on the spot.

"I was really happy," the 23-year-old admitted, "because we were lucky at the beginning of the race to gain some positions. The car was good and I was having a consistent drive, but when the safety car came out I started to have some problems with the brakes.

"I had a good re-start and overtook Nico Rosberg, but when I touched the brakes again they were gone. I spun out and I was lucky I ended up in the gravel, so there was no damage to myself or the car.

"The car was not as competitive as we wanted it to be in the race, but we were still running in the top eight. The Malaysian circuit should suit us better, and I'm sure that we can get a good result there next week."

Former double Formula 1 World Champion team-mate Fernando Alonso, for his part, was one of those drivers caught up in the first corner m?l?e - and the Spaniard spent the rest of the grand prix playing catch-up, ultimately being classified fifth following the demotion of Toyota star Jarno Trulli.

The 27-year-old was particularly critical of the benefits - or rather lack of - of the controversial new KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) technology that he was trialling for the first time in race conditions.

"Fifth place is not the best result," he acknowledged, "but in a way we have to be happy because we started the race in a difficult position and I was pushed wide at turn one onto the grass and dropped to the back of the pack. After that it was difficult, so it's great to score points.

"With what happened during the race - the incidents and the safety car - we managed to finish fifth. In terms of the overall results and looking at our competitors, we have to be happy. With the KERS I didn't feel a big difference and I was a little bit disappointed at how it worked. We also need to work on the tyres a bit more at the next race."

The R?gie's management agreed that the Enstone-based outfit had not been as competitive as it had either hoped or expected to be Down Under - but stressed its determination to 'fight back quickly', with its first chance to make amends the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang this coming weekend.

"The four points scored by Fernando are not a great consolation for what has been a disappointing weekend for us," reflected Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore. "We were just not competitive enough and our qualifying performance penalised us for the race.

"Fernando lost several positions at the start because of the first corner incident which he could not avoid. That said, our two drivers were consistent and tried to make the most of the situation.

"Nelson made a good start and his race was very promising, but a technical problem unfortunately brought his race to an end. It's only the first grand prix, though, and our intention is to work hard to fight back quickly, starting at the next grand prix in Malaysia."

"Nelson's accident appears to have been caused by a problem with the brake system," added executive director of engineering Pat Symonds, "although as yet we don't know what that might be. It's a shame because he was in a reasonable position. We are clearly not as competitive as we need to be, and there is a lot of work to be done to get to the front."

"A mixed result with the retirement of Nelson," concluded the French manufacturer's head of engine operations Remi Taffin, "and we will need to look into why he couldn't finish. We would have been able to do something good with Nelson, who had a great start to the race. I think he could have been on the podium, so it's a shame.

"We finished fifth with Fernando and when you consider the level of competitiveness that we have shown this weekend, it's not a bad result. We know that we have to do better, so we will take these points and work hard to try and get a strong result at the next race."