Having made some driving errors midway through the race, while running in 5th place behind teammate Robert Kubica, the GP2 graduate managed an outstanding late surge and passed both Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber in a matter of laps. He eventually finished the race in 7th place, handing Renault their first double-points finish this year.
The team's boss Eric Boullier couldn't have been more happier for Petrov after the race, especially since the Russian has had plenty of bad luck until now with reliability problems. Now, said Boullier, the Russian showed everyone just how aggressive and strong he can be in a trouble-free race.
“Vitaly put in a great drive. (...) Once everybody got onto the same tires in the second half of the race, he just got faster and faster - in the final laps, he was the quickest car on track,” said the Frenchman after the race was over, according to Autosport.
“We know that he has some very strong qualities: his speed and his calmness under pressure. You always have to give young drivers time. Kobayashi and Hulkenberg, the other rookies in established teams, have struggled to finish races and score points this year, and they both have more experience in an F1 car. Yesterday, Vitaly was finally able to show his true talent. It demonstrated that once he has confidence in the car, he can be very quick indeed.”
Under the circumstances, there isn't a single doubt in Boullier's mind that his team can make a push for 4th place in the manufacturers' standings this year, especially since leading driver Kubica finally managed to match Mercedes GP's pace in qualifying for the first time this season.
“Our first two-car points finish was a great reward for their (the team's) efforts. It takes a little while for the progress to be visible out on track, but looking at the situation race by race, we're getting steadily closer to pole position. Robert was able to split the Mercedes for the first time in qualifying in China, which was very encouraging for the whole team,” added Boullier.