Vitaly Petrov was understandably thrilled after qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, which saw the Russian take a career-best sixth on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
Petrov finished as the faster Renault driver, with team-mate Nick Heidfeld having a troubled qualifying session. He was knocked out in the first phase of qualifying and will start from 18th place.
With the team having endured a difficult winter pre-season due to Robert Kubica’s career-threatening rally accident, Petrov hoped that his efforts would help spur the team on.
“After all the hard work during a very tough winter for the whole team, it feels great to come here and qualify on the third row,” he said afterwards. “There was a lot of pressure in Q3 because I only had one run, right at the end of the session. So there were no second chances and I’m glad I was able to deliver the lap.
“The car has felt good right from the start of practice and we’ve improved it constantly during each session. I think we are in a great position for the race and that we can fight for some points tomorrow.”
Heidfeld, meanwhile, experienced a problem with his KERS unit and, once resolved, got held up in traffic as he tried to improve his lap time. And while he may be starting from the ninth row of the grid, the veteran also knows that tomorrow’s race is long and will feature plenty of incidents from which he could benefit.
“It wasn’t an easy session and I had a problem with the KERS, which meant I had to change some settings, and that cost me one of my timed laps,” the German said after qualifying. “Then, there was so much traffic and I tried to find some free space, but it didn’t work out for me.
“It’s bad luck, but I must try and put that behind me now. As we have seen with Vitaly, the car seems to have good pace and the race is wide open, so hopefully I can move forward and fight for points.”
[Original image via Sutton Images]