Vitaly Petrov shares his thoughts after achieving his first top-three result in Australia and becoming the first Russian to visit the F1 podium…
Q: Vitaly, congratulations: your first Formula One podium in your 20th grand prix start. Tell us how you are feeling right now?
VP: I feel ecstatic. It was a great feeling to be standing on the podium in front of my team, especially knowing what we have all been through over the winter with some very difficult moments. It shows that all the hard work and effort was worth it and I have to say thanks to everyone for giving me such a great car. I feel really good and I know we can have a great season.
Q: The car looked competitive right from the start of the weekend…
VP: It's true. All weekend was pretty good for us and the new parts we brought here worked well. It was the moment when we finally got some answers on where we stand compared to the others. The car was quick, there were no problems at all, and the team did everything perfectly. We can be proud of our result today. Also, we did not get this result thanks to a crazy race : there's been no safety car, no shunt, no rain. We got this podium on pure merit. After all the criticism I got last year, it's great to set the record straight.
Q: In the closing laps you had to fend off a double world champion – not for the first time! Talk us through your fight with Alonso…
VP: Well, to be honest he never got too close to me – maybe just on the final lap. So there was not too much pressure. Even if he wanted to attack me, he needed some time, but my tires were still in quite good shape, so I could keep a good gap. I even set my best time of the race three laps before the end. The decision to only stop twice was definitely the right one and the team made a great call on this. It was a tough one : at the end of my second stint, my lap times were starting to get worse, but we knew that the harder tire was quite slower. We took the decision to stop at the right time.
Q: Do you feel you can build on this result in Malaysia next week?
VP: I think so. We have an aggressive car, a special exhaust system, and it seems we are quite competitive, especially our race pace. We know that Red Bull and McLaren are very strong, too, but hopefully we can keep pushing them hard. I know we have some more aero parts coming for Sepang and I'm determined to continue fighting with these guys. Until then, I will go through the hundreds of congratulations messages I got yesterday!
Source: Lotus Renault GP