Vitaly Petrov cut a somewhat sheepish figure in the Spa-Francorchamps paddock on Saturday night, having failed to set a qualifying time, but salvaged his reputation a little by scoring points from the last row of the grid in a typically changeable Belgian Grand Prix.
The Russian rookie openly admitted that he had been caught out while attempting to discover just how wet the kerbs at Liege were on his out lap in qualifying, but produced a gutsy drive on race day, including a strong-arm pass on Nico Rosberg's Mercedes at Les Combes
Among the keys to Petrov's relative success were a good start, and then avoiding the melee at the Bus Stop which accounted for F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello at the end of the opening lap. Making full use of Renault's new - and impressive - F-duct system, he was knocking on the door of the top ten with a few laps, and moved further into the scoring positions by muscling his way past Rosberg at the end of the Kemmel straight on lap eleven.
Although a recovering Fernando Alonso and the first round of pit-stops - which Mercedes eschewed while waiting for further rain - pushed the Renault driver back down the order, he remained in contention for points, and benefited when the Spaniard spun out in the final downpour.
"Scoring points was the target today, so it's good to finish ninth," Petrov admitted, "My start was okay and I then tried to push hard and come through the field, which is what I did.
"The race was nice, but the conditions were very difficult and it was hard to choose which tyres to use. The team made some good decisions and I stayed a long time on the slicks, so I think we made the best of it. We also had the F-duct this weekend, which gave me good speed on the straights and helped me in my battle with Rosberg, so it looks good for the coming races.
"After my mistake yesterday in qualifying, I showed that we have the pace to always be in the top ten and I hope next time I can qualify much better so I don't have to overtake so many cars."
"It was a strong performance from Vitaly to recover from the back of the grid to score points and, overall, I think we can be very satisfied with this weekend, especially because we brought our latest updates, including the F-duct, and managed to get it working properly straight away," team principal Eric Boullier confirmed, "This weekend has shown us that we have taken a good step forward, which is very promising for the rest of the season."