Petrov: Renault treated me like a child

By on Saturday, March 3, 2012

Vitaly Petrov © Lotus Renault GP

Caterham driver Vitaly Petrov has hit out at his former team, Lotus Renault GP, saying that he felt like he was being treated like a child when former McLaren engineer Mark Slade was his race engineer in 2010.

The Lotus F1 team, formerly known as Lotus Renault GP, chose not to retain the Russian at the end of the 2011 season, opting instead for an all new driver lineup in Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Slade was Raikkonen's race engineer while they were both at McLaren and the Finn reportedly had a good relationship with Slade. When Raikkonen joined Lotus, he requested Slade as his race engineer.

"In 2010, I had some problems with my team, fighting with Mark Slade. He's a very clever engineer, but it was not a good relationship. They put him up high because he had 20 years of experience and you are the child. If he told you to jump through a window, you must jump through a window," said Petrov to Autosport.

"I respected him and listened to him all the time and jumped when he said. But I did the wrong thing. I had my feelings and I should have been more aggressive, but I was afraid I would say something wrong," added Petrov.

According to the Russian driver, the situation improved when he switched race engineers in 2011. "I had a bad start to the season, crashing a bit and they decided to change the relationship. In 2011, it was completely different. I had a new engineer [Ayao Komatsu], who was like a friend. Sometimes, I would look at him after getting out of the car and didn't need to say anything because he understood."

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier also revealed last year the extent the team has had to manage Petrov's daily routine. “He needed someone to guide him, to get him about, to tell him how to behave at the track, what time to wake up, have breakfast, how to manage his day, be on time for meetings and so on,” said Boullier.

This was not the first time Petrov has spoken out against his former team. Last year following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Russian angrily criticized his team on Russian TV for poor strategy calls and a lack of car development.

“Unfortunately, I can’t say anything bad about the team, it is written down in my contract,” said the 27-year-old during the interview. It is has been speculated that his angry outburst was one of the reasons why the team decided not to retain him for 2012 even though he had a contract in place.

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