Risky Renault exhaust pays dividends

Renault boss Eric Boullier believes Vitaly Petrov's podium finish at the Australian Grand Prix is proof that the R31's pioneering exhaust layout has paid off.

Renault stole the headlines at the opening winter test at Valencia when it became apparent that the car's exhausts were exiting from the front of the sidepods rather than the conventional position at the rear. The idea is to energize the flow of air under the car's floor with hot gases, helping to feed the diffuser and create more downforce.

At the time the team admitted it was a risky development due to the potential for overheating issues and Boullier admitted it was a "relief" to see it work at the first race.

"The podium today is a huge relief and a big reward for all the work which has been done by all the team, and obviously I am very happy," he said. "It shows that the decision we took to be aggressive with the design of the car was the right call, and it's something we can build on going forward."

Technical director James Allison said the car would be even quicker in Malaysia.

"I'm utterly delighted for everyone in the team because it has not been easy getting here," he said. "I would be lying if I said I thought we'd earn a podium like we did today, but Vitaly's place looked very good in qualifying and we knew we were competitive. We thought we were in with a shout of a good fight with the Ferraris, and we did exactly that. Going forward we will have more aero updates for the car in Malaysia, which are worth a few extra tenths. It should allow us to build on our strong showing today."

Nick Heidfeld finished 12th after a poor qualifying performance and major crash damage to his car during the race. Boullier reckons he can be back on the pace alongside Petrov in time for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

"The performance of Vitaly was very strong and it shows that we can deliver strong results this season. In fact, I have no doubt that both our drivers can be fighting towards the front at the next race and that we can build on the competitiveness we have shown this weekend." ESPN F1

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