As the curtain fell on the 2011 F1 season, Lotus Renault's Vitaly Petrov was left to reflect on a hard-won point in Brazil - but a disappointing year as a whole.
Petrov began the season with a fantastic third place in Melbourne, and the future looked bright for him and the team. Eight months later at Interlagos, that result remains the outstanding highlight of a year that has failed to deliver on initial promise.
The Russian moved forward from his qualifying slot of 15th to twelfth by the end of the first lap, before taking advantage of slip-ups ahead to finish in the final points scoring position in tenth.
Yet, despite a good drive, Petrov was also left to rue traffic that cost him a potentially better result, an outcome reflecting the frustration that has all too often occurred this year.
“Definitely it is good to finish with a point, which was a good response to yesterday's qualifying position," he acknowledged, "My race start was good and my speed was not too bad and I was quite happy with the car, [but] we came in quite early and I think we lost out being behind both Toro Rossos, as it was very difficult to overtake them. I lost quite a lot of time like this, otherwise I think I could have been ahead of Kamui Kobayashi and it would have been better to finish in P9 instead of P10.
“The pit-stops were better, with one very good one – my crew were working well right up to the end of the season. I wanted more points this year. It was not a fantastic season, but I want to say thank you to all the team who have supported me and believed in me. Next year is another season and I hope we can work even better together and achieve much better results.”
Petrov's future at Lotus Renault is still up in the air, despite a contract being in place for next season, but when one considers whether the Russian is worthy of a place on the grid for next season, that podium at the opening round must be taken into account along with subsequent struggles and comebacks.
by Philip Barclay