• Chinese Grand Prix - Qualifying

Petrov suffers air supply problem

ESPNF1 Staff
April 16, 2011 « Alonso gives Ferrari '10 out of 10' | »
Vitaly Petrov stopped out on track and was unable to participate in Q3 © Getty Images

Renault have said that the reason Vitaly Petrov stopped out on track during qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix was due to the engine's air supply being cut off.

Petrov had just set a lap time fast enough to get in to the final qualifying session when his car came to a halt just after turn four. The incident caused the session to be red flagged and left drivers with only two minutes to improve their times. The ensuing traffic made a clear lap difficult, and Nick Heidfeld was one of those to suffer, qualifying 16th.

Petrov was forced to sit out Q3 as qualifying rules mean the car cannot be returned until after the session ends, and chief engineer Alan Permane said the failure had cost both drivers.

"We are still investigating exactly what happened," Permane said. "It's clear that he lost power and the engine died. We believe the air supply to the engine was cut off. It couldn't be restarted and the car got stuck in gear, which is why he stopped on the track.

Nick's time from Q1 suggested that it might be difficult for him to make it through to Q3. That's why we wanted to run right at the end of Q2 to take advantage of the maximum track evolution. As it happened, Vitaly's car brought out the red flags at exactly the wrong moment, and Nick then got caught up in the traffic in the busy rush at the end of Q2."

Heidfeld himself said he was frustrated to not be able to show the full potential of the car, but hoped for another quick start off the line to be able to make some places.

"It's quite frustrating to be starting from P16 because I don't think it's a fair reflection of our pace," Heidfeld said. "We were always going to do one run on the soft tyres in Q2, but the red flag made the last few minutes on Q2 very busy. You really needed to be first in the queue at the end of the pit lane because there was not much time to get around and cross the line before the end of the session. I managed to do one final lap, but I was stuck in traffic and I couldn't get a clean lap.

As I said, our race pace is definitely better than our grid position, but starting from P16 is not going to be easy. I think it's a track where you can overtake so hopefully I can make a good start, like in the previous two races, and fight for points."