Vitaly Petrov believes Lotus Renault took a 'big step forward' over the Belgian GP weekend.

Although Petrov only finished in ninth position, it was still a welcome result for the Russian and he would have been ahead of the Ferrari of Felipe Massa in eighth too, had it not been for brake problems near the end. Indeed at the finish, Petrov was pretty chipper with how the R31 performed around the 4.35 mile Spa-Francorchamps circuit

"I think we've made a big step forward with the car, and you can see that I was in top ten contention for all of the race - and close to the Mercedes - so we need to keep working in this direction," Petrov said.

"Our strategy was good, however we lost out on our top speed which meant I found it very difficult to overtake. The car was very strong on the corners, and we were very good on the brakes until I had issues at the end.

"For the final laps I was driving differently to compensate for the brake concerns, but unfortunately I spun right at the end as I had totally lost my front brakes. Looking at the performance of the weekend though, overall I'm quite happy."

Lotus Renault chief race engineer, Alan Permane meanwhile echoed those thoughts: "It was good for us to get back in the points again, but it was a disappointing afternoon [too] as I felt we had the pace to achieve better than we did," he added.

"Vitaly had good pace but unfortunately there wasn't the straight-line speed, even with the DRS, to overtake even if we were clearly faster than the Force India at the end of the race.

"We had a problem with Vitaly's brakes at the end - possibly one of the front discs - causing a big vibration and unfortunately on the last corner of the last lap he spun. On a positive note though it's very clear that we've improved the car with new parts and the updates have shown clear improvements."

"I take mixed feelings from today because we suffered from a difficult first corner, which prevented us from scoring more points," summarised team boss, Eric Boullier. "Having said that, both Vitaly and Bruno [Senna] drove a respectable race from this point on, and ensured we would take something away from this weekend.

"Importantly, we have at least returned to the points with Vitaly's ninth. It's good to see that we've improved our pace, and there are clear indications that some of our vigour has re-emerged following some tricky races. This weekend has acted as a real building block for Monza, and I'm very glad to say that spirits are higher than they have been for a while."