Vitaly Petrov was having a decent battle with the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso when it all went horribly wrong for the Russian driver in Korea.

Slipstreaming behind Alonso down into the turn 3 hairpin on lap 16, Petrov outbraked himself and went flying into the rear-side of Michael Schumacher who was already making the right hand turn up ahead.

"I was in the braking zone on the dirty side of the track which meant I locked my wheels and hit Michael," explained Petrov. "I was focused on my battle with Fernando as there was potential for me to be ahead of him. We both braked too late as he missed the corner too.

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"I apologise to Michael, it was not his fault, it was absolutely my fault," he admitted. "Once my wheels were locked there was nothing I could do about it. But that's racing and tomorrow is another day."

Looking on the bright side, the team's trackside operations director Alan Permane pointed out that "to be fighting with Michael and Fernando after the first pit stop was very encouraging."

Unfortunately the incident will mean that the next Grand Prix race day for Petrov will now include a five place grid position penalty as a result of causing the avoidable collision, something that neither driver nor team contested.

Lotus Renault GP's other driver Bruno Senna made it to the chequered flag, but finished out of the points in 13th place in what everyone agreed had not been the best of days for them.

"I got a bad start, and from then on it was always going to be an uphill battle," said Senna. "Being stuck behind a number of other cars again restricted my ability to get points today; I don't feel there were any specific weaknesses in my car itself but I was just unable to progress much from where I was."

Team principal Eric Boullier traced Senna's problem back to poor showing on Saturday: "It was disappointing for Bruno not to qualify higher than he did yesterday and as a result the race was always going to be tough," he said.

"Bruno had a difficult race," agreed Permane. "We took a bit of a risk to use the super soft tyre very early to try to gain positions. It didn't work and basically he stayed where he started. We did ask a lot of the soft tyres to do nearly half a race and it didn't work, but equally it didn't cost us anything.

"Looking at the positives, there is no doubt that the car was working very well with Vitaly," he added.