Petrov podium finish is joyful movement for Russia

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Vitaly Petrov believes he is capable of leading Renault in the absence of the injured Robert Kubica after finishing third at the Australian Grand Prix.

Petrov managed to claim his first podium while Kubica's stand-in Nick Heidfeld was 12th in a damaged car.

It was the drive of a lifetime for Petrov, who had given an indication of his pace on Saturday evening when he qualified sixth, although few F1 analysts gave him much chance of bettering his starting place in the race itself.

But Petrov drove like a seasoned professional, taking advantage of mistakes by others and moving up into fourth place and then third as the race unfolded.

It was the sort of performance that had observers asking whether he now had sufficient maturity and smarts to become Renault's team leader this season in the absence of Kubica, who injured himself in a rally accident earlier this year.

Petrov was not keen to get involved in that debate, but expressed his sheer delight at his achievement yesterday.
''I am [just] happy to be sitting here with these guys'', he said, gesturing to Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, the current and former world champions had finished in front of him, sitting alongside him.

Vitaly Petrov, a 26-year-old born in Vyborg, close to St Petersburg, became the first Russian driver in F1 last season when he landed a drive with the Renault squad as No. 2 to another Eastern European, the Pole Robert Kubica.

Fernando Alonso was not able to overtake Vitaly Petrov in season opening race. In a similar scenario, it last happened during the finale at Abu Dhabi last year, where Petrov holding Alonso caused Alonso losing his third world championship title.

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F1 Statistics

23-25 November, 2012

Practice 1 : Result

Practice 2 : Result

Practice 3 : Result

Qualifying : Result

Race : Result

1 Sebastian Vettel 281
2 Fernando Alonso 278
3 Kimi Räikkönen 207
4 Lewis Hamilton 190
5 Jenson Button 188
6 Mark Webber 179
7 Felipe Massa 122
8 Romain Grosjean 96
9 Nico Rosberg 93
10 Sergio Perez 66
Full Table

1 Red Bull Racing - Renault 460
2 Ferrari 400
3 Mclaren - Mercedes 378
4 Lotus - Renault 303
5 Mercedes 142
6 Sauber - Ferrari 126
7 Force India - Mercedes 109
8 Williams - Renault 76
9 STR - Ferrari 26
10 Marussia-Cosworth 0
Full Table