Vitaly Petrov has become the first ever Russian to ascend the Formula 1 podium after finishing third at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Petrov, who was sixth on the grid, had a great start to the race at Melbourne’s Albert Park bypassing both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.
The Lotus Renault man then produced some faultless driving, also bypassing home favorite Mark Webber, to place third, eight seconds behind Lewis Hamilton on McLaren, making history in Russian motorsports.
Fourth placed Alonso was catching up on Petrov on the final laps, but had no time to organize any serious attacks, finishing a second behind.
“To be honest I’m very happy to be here [on the podium],” Petrov said after the race.
“All weekend was pretty good for us, but really after testing we didn’t know where we were. We came here with some new parts and through free practice our car looked pretty strong, and also qualifying wasn’t too bad. Then we just focussed on our race and I think today the team did everything perfectly. We must be proud of our placing today,” he explained.
The Russian made his Formula 1 debut for Renault at the start of the 2010 season. He finished 13th in the overall Drivers’ Championship, with a fifth place finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix being the 26-year-old’s best result.
Meanwhile, defending champion Sebastian Vettel took the Australian Grand Prix in style. The German was too fast for his opponents, keeping the first position from the first to the final 58th lap, beating second placed Hamilton by over 22 seconds.
Both cars in the first ever Russian F1 Marussia Virgin team managed to cross the finish line in Australia, which can also be labeled a success.
They occupied two of the last positions, with 16th placed Jerome d’Ambrosio losing three laps to the winner, and Timo Glock, who experienced technical problems, being three laps behind.