FORMULA ONE’S newest race winner Robert Kubica has finally admitted he and his BMW Sauber team are world championship contenders following a maiden victory for both in Montreal.
Kubica, 23, climbed to the top of the podium for the first time in 29 attempts after making his debut with BMW Sauber towards the end of 2006 and his Canadian Grand Prix victory also sent him to the top of the world drivers’ championship.
With BMW Sauber scoring a race one-two thanks to Nick Heidfeld’s runner-up finish, the team also went second in the constructors’ championship.
Having claimed second place in Monaco, Kubica had denied he was a title contender despite moving to fourth in the championship.
Now four points clear of Lewis Hamilton, whose weekend fell apart when he crashed into the back of defending champion Kimi Raikkonen, thus knocking out the pre-race championship leader and second-placed driver, he could do little to deny the claim this time.
“I think when you are leading the world championship after seven races as a driver, you have a car that can win races and can fight for top positions, it’s a top team,” Kubica said. “That’s very clear, I think.”
Kubica acknowledged some good fortune had gone his way with his main championship rivals being wiped out of the race in one fell swoop after 18 laps by Hamilton’s car as the Pole sat next to Raikkonen waiting for the red light.
Hamilton saw the red light too late, veered away from Kubica’s car directly in front of him and instead clattered into the back of Raikkonen’s Ferrari.
Meanwhile McLaren team boss Ron Dennis has refused to be downbeat about Lewis Hamilton’s chances of sealing world title success after his Canada nightmare.
Hamilton had been in peak form all weekend in Canada, taking pole position and leading the race comfortably before a safety car was deployed and all the main contenders decided to refuel at the first opportunity at the end of the lap 18.
That led to the Hamilton error which cost him not only the race but also a 10-place drop down the grid for the next race, the French Grand Prix on June 22, as punishment.
The BMW Sauber one-two also saw McLaren drop from second to third in the constructors’ championship but Dennis took comfort from the pace Hamilton had before his demise.
“Obviously, for a team that exists to win, today was a very disappointing day,” Dennis said.
“The collision that eliminated Lewis was just one of those things. The plain fact is that Lewis didn’t realise that the cars in front of him were coming to a halt until too late.
“It’s difficult for a driver to decide whether to focus on the lights or on the cars ahead in situations like that.”
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