Vitaly Petrov has told Renault that they can rely on him to perform this season as the team prepares to head into the 2011 F1 season without Robert Kubica.
Kubica's rally accident is likely to keep him out for a large chunk, if not all, of the current campaign and had led to Renault bringing in Nick Heidfeld as his replacement.
Despite the difficult circumstances the team finds itself in, Petrov insisted it was vital that Renault continues to push forwards and said he was keen to show that he can be relied on after a debut season filled with mixed results.
“Robert was an important part of the team, but I think the team should move forward because we cannot get frozen at one point,” he told the official F1 website. “With Nick, an experienced driver has joined us so that gives hope. Let's put it this way: life is like that - sometimes very unpredictable and cruel.
“My first year was quite difficult so it was very important for me to have a strong team-mate. This year we have lost Robert but we did find Nick, who comes with a lot of experience. But I also have much more experience than last season, with one year of Formula One under my belt and knowing much more, so the team can also work and rely on me.”
Prior to his accident, Kubica had set the pace during the opening test of the season in Valencia, while Heidfeld was also quickest on his day of running with the team at Jerez – which proved to be enough to secure his place in the team while Kubica is absent.
However, despite the pace shown by the R31 Petrov said it was important not to read too much into the times as all people can do while testing continues is guess about the relative performance of the cars.
“Forget about the lap times,” he said. “Don't even look at them. Last season we didn't see that Red Bull would be so fast in the tests. Everything will be clear at the first race - until then everything is guessing, as everybody can be at the top of the time sheet at the tests if he so wishes - that's no miracle.
“But we don't need that. We are working on our programme as everybody else does. We are trying to get as much data from the car and the tyres as possible - and lap times don't mean a thing.”