The battle between Vitaly Petrov and Robert Kubica would have been much closer in 2011.
That is the claim of Renault's chief engineer Alan Permane, who acknowledged that Russian Petrov was well off the pace of his Polish teammate last year.
But in his second year of F1 Petrov is much improved, with Permane claiming that had Kubica not sat out the season through injury, he would have faced a good challenge from the sister R31.
"(In 2010) Robert was ahead most of the time, but he (Petrov) did a good race in Abu Dhabi at the end of the year.
We found a new Vitaly when we arrived in Melbourne
"But we found a new Vitaly when we arrived in Melbourne," said Permane, referring to the performance that culminated in Petrov's podium. "He was really focused and didn't make a single mistake throughout the weekend.
"Last year Robert was much faster than him and Vitaly could do nothing about it. He (Kubica) would have been the faster of the two this season but with not such a difference."