Renault team boss Eric Boullier insists that Vitaly Petrov's podium finish in the opening round of the new F1 season in Australia is a sign that the team was right to adopt an aggressive approach to the design of the new R31.
The Enstone-based team elected to fit the car with an innovative exhaust system that comes out of the sidepod of the car rather than from the rear, which has been designed to aid the flow of air around the car and improve downforce.
The move was seen as a risk because the positioning of the exhaust could have increased the chance of overheating but on the back of Petrov's third place at Albert Park, Boullier said he was pleased the approach had paid off.
“The podium today is a huge relief and a big reward for all the work which has been done by all the team, and obviously I am very happy,” he said. “It shows that the decision we took to be aggressive with the design of the car was the right call, and it's something we can build on going forward.
“The performance of Vitaly was very strong and it shows that we can deliver strong results this season. In fact, I have no doubt that both our drivers can be fighting towards the front at the next race and that we can build on the competitiveness we have shown this weekend.”
Technical director James Allison was also thrilled to see the team rewarded with a podium finish, although he conceded that he hadn't expected a top three result going into the weekend.
“I'm utterly delighted for everyone in the team because it has not been easy getting here,” he said. “I would be lying if I said I thought we'd earn a podium like we did today, but Vitaly's place looked very good in qualifying and we knew we were competitive. We thought we were in with a shout of a good fight with the Ferraris, and we did exactly that.
“Going forward we will have more aero updates for the car in Malaysia, which are worth a few extra tenths. It should allow us to build on our strong showing today.”