Russian driver Vitaly Petrov’s battles for position with 2010 world champion Jenson Button and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa were the highlight of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend for his Caterham team, owner Tony Fernandes said Sunday.
Petrov finished 16th in his first completed race for Caterham after retiring from last week's Austrlian Grand Prix with a steering problem. Petrov spent several laps defending his position against the faster cars of Button and Massa, although both drivers eventually overtook him.
“We recorded our first two car finish at our home race in Malaysia, and we definitely gave the fans here something to cheer for, particularly with Vitaly battling with the likes of Ferrari, Williams and Toro Rosso,” Fernandes said.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso took a surprise win after benefiting from his team’s smart strategy in the wet conditions, ahead of Sauber’s Sergio Perez and McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton.
“The fact we are now fighting with some of the most famous names in motorsport is a huge achievement in what is only our third season,” Fernandes said.
Petrov said he was pleased to bring the car home in Malaysia.
“Today I was able to put in similar lap times to the cars ahead and didn't make any mistakes in the tricky conditions,” he said on the team website.
“I'm very pleased I've been able to record my first race finish for the team and to start to show what we can do in races.”
Petrov’s teammate Heikki Kovalainen finished 18th.
The next race of the season takes place in China on April 15.