Vitaly Petrov has conceded that ironing out the errors that have bedevilled his rookie campaign in the top flight and potentially endangered his seat at Renault F1 next year will be pivotal over the final three races of 2010 – beginning with this weekend's inaugural Korean Grand Prix.
Petrov's inconsistency this year has been the main stumbling-block to a renewal of his contract with the Enstone-based outfit into a second season, with mistakes and poor qualifying performances hampering his chances of scoring points in the grands prix themselves, when he has invariably demonstrated himself to be a feisty and accomplished racer – albeit all-too-often too far down the grid to make much of an impact on proceedings.
Flashes of genuine promise and potential have been tempered by the eight times the 'Vyborg Rocket' has finished outside of the top ten, and to make matters even worse, on all-bar one of those occasions, team-mate Robert Kubica did
The undoubted nadir thus far came a fortnight ago in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, when the young Russian slammed into the circuit barriers mere seconds after the starting-lights had gone out, the unfortunate incident again belying his lack of experience at the highest level and the very raw nature of his talent. In Korea, he concedes, he must
“It's hard to do any special preparation because it's a brand new circuit and there have not been any races there yet,” the 26-year-old mused of the step into the unknown that lies ahead for all 24 F1 drivers. “This means there is very little information available. All I have done is some simulator work to help me learn the track. Because it's a new circuit, I think this makes life a little bit easier for me because everybody will be in the same situation and will have to learn the track.
“The best thing is to walk the track and see it for yourself. Then, I like to do some laps on my bike to understand as much as I can. You have to look at things like the kerbs and the run-off areas. All this is helpful, but you obviously learn the most during the first free practice session – it's important that you know the lap by the end of this first session.
“It looks like a tricky circuit. The third sector looks quite a challenge because it's low-speed with most corners probably taken in second or third gear. Turns Seven and Eight will be quick corners, and there are three long straights where it's important to use the F-duct. Overall, I think it will be quite a good circuit for our car and there should also be some opportunities for overtaking.
“I always try to be in the top ten and that must be the target this weekend. I think we had the potential to do that at Suzuka, but I need to make sure I don't make any mistakes. Scoring points is important – and that will be my aim in Korea.”