Vitaly Petrov was at a loss to understand an accident in Malaysia that Renault team principal Eric Boullier described as “terrifying”…
Vitaly Petrov was at a loss to understand an accident in Malaysia that Renault team principal Eric Boullier described as “terrifying.”
Just over two laps from the chequered flag and with eighth place in his sights, Petrov ran wide, striking a kerb that then launched his car into the air.
On thudding back onto the Sepang circuit, the impact jolted the steering column out of place, leaving Petrov with no means to control his car.
The Russian, however, superbly managed to slow his speed, although ran into a polystyrene advertising hoarding on the other side of the track before finally coming to rest.
“I have to say it was terrifying to see him jumping so high,” said Boullier.
“When a Formula One car is flying like that, the landing is never going to be good, and the steering column mounting broke.
“That was as a consequence of when the car landed. Nothing else. It was just one of those things, but it was bad enough.
“When I saw the steering column in his hands I thought something had gone badly wrong.
“But when I saw how high he was flying, I understood why. He did a very good job to keep the car under control with no steering.”
Petrov played down the incident as he said: “To be honest I still don’t understand what I did.
“The corner is a difficult one, and I knew Lewis (Hamilton) was behind me, but there were only two laps to go and I knew my tyres were good.
“But I picked up some rubber which resulted in understeer and I went wide, and it was a big bump there.
“When I took off and hit the ground, my first thought then was that my race was over.
“It wasn’t scary for me. You know it’s going to be a big shunt.
“It’s actually more scary when you see a wall coming towards you when you crash.”
After finishing third in the first race of the season in Australia a fortnight ago, Petrov was naturally gutted not to have scored at least something on this occasion.
“It was a small mistake from me that shouldn’t have had the consequences it had,” added Petrov, whose team-mate Nick Heidfeld was third.
“Both cars should have been in the points, but the good news is we clearly have the pace needed to compete this season.”