Renault chief admits retaining Vitaly Petrov was a gamble

Renault team principal Eric Boullier has admitted to putting his neck on the line over the winter for Vitaly Petrov.

The Russian was a bitter disappointment last year in his rookie season, falling considerably short of expectations.



Petrov scored just 27 points, finishing 109 behind team-mate Robert Kubica, and was predominantly the reason why Renault missed out on fourth place in the constructors' championship to Mercedes.



Few people within Formula One expected Petrov to be retained, but a resilient performance in the final grand prix in Abu Dhabi arguably saved his skin.



On that occasion Petrov held up Fernando Alonso for the majority of the race, and in so doing prevented the Ferrari star from winning a third world title.



Following several long conversations with Boullier in the close-season, and a much-needed move to England to be closer to the factory in Enstone, Petrov proved his worth on Sunday.



In the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, he secured the first podium of his career in finishing behind race-winner Sebastian Vettel and runner-up Lewis Hamilton.



That made Boullier a "very happy and relieved" man as Petrov vindicated the Frenchman's belief in him.



"He had a couple of good races last year, but there were also mistakes as well, so I put a lot of pressure on him," said Boullier.



"I spent a lot of time talking with him, to understand what was wrong and why he was making all his mistakes.



"We spent a lot of time discussing with him and putting in place an environment to help him understand the English culture, let's say, and the culture of Formula One.



"We also had to help him improve his communication around his car, to find a way for him to deliver the message about improving his speed, but also for him to understand what the team were expecting.



"We had a commitment from him that he would make the move to get closer to what we were expecting, including the most physical in moving to England.



"It was not an easy decision (to keep him) because I would have had no excuses if he had failed for a second year.



"He has reacted in a good way, and it looks like we have achieved something with him."



Despite arguably the most accomplished performance of Petrov's F1 career to date, Boullier believes it is too early for him to take up the mantle of being team leader.



Kubica was undoubtedly the number one driver prior to suffering horrific injuries in a rallying accident in February that have placed his future in limbo.



Renault recruited Nick Heidfeld as a replacement, but the German was surprisingly disappointing in Melbourne and trailed a long way behind Petrov in both qualifying and the race.



"You can't give the title of team leader to a young guy who has only had one year in Formula One, and who started without having done a single mile," added Boullier.



"But if he takes this position then I'm happy, and if he keeps repeating the performances we saw on Sunday, to be honest I'll be more than happy."



Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas