Vitaly Petrov admits that pre-season testing has been a 'steep learning curve' as the Russian prepares to make his F1 debut in Bahrain.
Petrov was confirmed with the team ahead of the opening test of the year in Valencia but has seen much of his time behind the wheel of the new R30 affected by poor weather conditions.
However, despite admitting he would have preferred more time at the wheel, the GP2 graduate said he was settling into his new surroundings well and was keen to get as close to team-mate Robert Kubica as possible when racing gets underway at the Sakhir circuit.
“It was particularly bad in Jerez and we also had more rain in Barcelona,” he said. “In total I think I've had maybe two or three days of fully dry running, which is tough when you are a rookie as you need to learn how to set the car up in the dry. Of course I would like more days of testing, but there is no more time available and the weather has been the same for all the teams so there's no point complaining.
“For me it has been a completely new experience and a steep learning curve. I've been working with the team for a month now and getting to know all the people and understanding how Renault works. I've also spent as much time as I can at the track and in the garage listening to all the discussions. Everyone has been really helpful and I've settled in very quickly, but I know there is still a lot to learn.
“As a racing driver your first target is always to beat your team-mate, but Robert has a lot of experience and I know I can learn from him. When we start racing my aim is to be as close to him as possible.”
Team-mate Kubica said he too was pleased with the way in which he has settled into his new team although the Pole admitted it was difficult to judge exactly where Renault stands compared to its rivals.
“Overall I feel good and well integrated with the team,” he said. “My first test in Valencia was a big learning experience and there were a lot of new things to understand, especially the behaviour of the car and the systems. The team worked hard to make the changes I needed in time for the Jerez tests and we then found a good balance with the car and were quite competitive. This final test in Barcelona has been more difficult and we lost some important running time. But with the work we did in Jerez I'm quite confident that we have learned enough about the car to be ready for Bahrain.
“It's so difficult to judge where we are because it changes from day to day and we don't know what the other teams are doing or what stage of development they are at. Also, every team will have more upgrades before the first race. As I said, we were looking very promising in Jerez, but we still need more overall grip.”