"I have to thank Lewis that he chose Kimi and not me..."
A race driver with a sense of humour? Who'd have thought it? Yet there are many surprising things about Robert Kubica, not least that he is leading the World Championship ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen after seven of the season's 18 races.
The 23-year-old from Krakow was the beneficiary when things went so spectacularly wrong for Hamilton in last weekend's Canadian Grand Prix, as the Englishman missed a red light at the end of the pit lane and took out himself and his Ferrari rival Raikkonen. Kubica went on to score his first victory,in a dramatic one-two for BMW Sauber. While Hamilton and Massa are the charismatic title conten-ders and Raikkonen deliberately keeps a low profile, the owl-like Kubica has been off the general public's radar. But insiders know that he could already have been leading the title chase had he not suffered various misfortunes when well placed earlier in the year. His victory came hot on the heels of second place in Monaco, where he never put a wheel wrong.
"I did not expect to be leading the championship after seven races, as our car is not the absolute fastest on the grid," he admits. "However, we have total reliability. We've made huge improvements. Added to which, the pit crew have done a great job, as has everybody in the team.
"I've collected points regularly so far this year. I will focus on the grands prix one at a time and try to take maximum points in every situation. Of course, consistency is an important factor, and I hope we are also able to make further improvements to the car. Then we can achieve good things. One thing is for sure – I'll be giving it everything."
His win was a shot in the arm for the sport after the recent Max Mosley politics. Talking about the victory, Kubica said: "It is a wonderful feeling, not only for me but the whole team. We had a little luck but we earned that good fortune. In the end we were able to celebrate a one-two victory, in which Nick [Heidfeld] also played his part. It was a fantastic result, which gives the team a big motivation boost." Predictably, Hamilton has already expressed the view that his gaffe will not in any way hold him back. Last week he busied himself supporting a new Go Motorsport initiative which is funded by the Motor Sports Association and aims to encourage a large number of people to take up rolesin the sport by exploiting his sudden rise to international prominence.
"It's a great initiative to raise awareness of motorsport, for one," Hamilton said, "but also to attract more people, more spectators and also raise awareness among small kids.
"You don't have to be a Formula One driver to be a racing driver. There are lots of other categories you can be in that aren't as expensive, lots of other areas you can participate in. Everyone knows about football. But if they knew about motor racing and karting and how much fun you can have and also that it's a family sport..."
Meanwhile, Ron Dennis has defended Hamilton's mistake in Canada. "Nico [Rosberg] ran into the back of Lewis, which showed what happened; it was a chain reaction as they were accelerating out of the pit lane," said the McLaren chief. "The guys in front started to stop, Lewis was watching the back of the cars, driving off their actions. We don't have brake lights. At the end of the day, he put himself out of the grand prix, as simple as that, and one that he was comfortably leading."Reuse content