Vitaly Petrov has said that he has no concerns after being out-paced by Bruno Senna in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, claiming that the rain at Spa-Francorchamps made an upset more likely.
Although Senna, who had been drafted into the line-up following the Lotus Renault
team's dissatisfaction with Nick Heidfeld's performance over the first eleven races of the season, crashed out of opening practice on Friday morning, he improved steadily thereafter, clocking the ninth-fastest time in Saturday's equally-wet session, before progressing to the final phase of qualifying in tricky conditions that afternoon. Only a late shuffle in the order prevented him from potentially starting on row three, but the Brazilian will still line up three places ahead of Petrov for his first race since 2010.
However, with rain having plagued the event throughout the weekend, qualifying was always likely to be a lottery and, with Jenson Button's 13th position as evidence, Petrov insisted that little should be read into the positions of the two Renault
"Qualifying was very difficult and I've ruined my tyres," he admitted to the official F1 website, "I think it was one of the most difficult qualifying sessions of the season so far, because of the permanently changing track conditions. Then, in Q3, I spun in Turn 16 when I lost the grip on the rear end. I still don't know why it happened [but], taking this lapse into account, I am not too unhappy with my tenth place.
"I am a bit angry with myself as Q1 and Q2 worked very well - and then there was this stupid mistake! But it was my first mistake in Q3 this year so I guess I can live with it."
Asked whether the session had been tougher than that at the Canadian Grand Prix
in June, Petrov said that the changing conditions had indeed made Belgium the worse of the two.
"Montreal was much easier because it rained. Period," he maintained, "But, here, it rained, then it got dry, then it rained again, so you never knew when to push. Should you secure a lap time at the beginning in case it rains later in the session, or do you need to save your tyres and push towards the end? it was a gamble. And, taking all that into account, I can say that we've got it pretty right with both cars."
After praising the team for returning both cars to the top ten, courtesy of updates introduced during the summer break, Petrov went on to recognise the strides that Senna, who had a single Friday practice session under his belt before arriving at Spa, had made during the weekend.
"So far, he has done a fantastic job on his first race weekend for Renault," the Russian admitted, "Okay, he knows this track well from other series and it was wet most of the day, which always makes it easier for a rookie, as it was with me last year. But that doesn't detract from his performance. He can be very proud of his result today."