Kubica wins maiden GP amidst drama

BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica won the Canadian GP in Montreal after pre-race favourite Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen crashed out.

updated: June 15, 2008 18:10 IST
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Robert Kubica made a triumphant return to Canada on Sunday, storming to his maiden grand prix victory exactly a year after suffering a horrific crash on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

The Pole led a shock BMW Sauber one-two in Montreal after pre-race favourite Lewis Hamilton took himself and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen out of the fray in an early pit lane collision.

Nick Heidfeld took second place and Red Bull's David Coulthard was third but the day belonged to Kubica, now four points clear at the top of the world championship.

"It is fantastic to win for BMW Sauber," he said. "We grew up together and thanks to the team for providing a good car - we managed to do first and second.

"Winning in Canada where I had big shunt last season and achieving the goal to win a grand prix this season... We have done it and I'm leading the championship, so I hope the team will give me 100 percent support to defend it until last race.

"It's fantastic for me, the team, my country and my fans. It was a great race. It is always chaotic here with the safety car and it is not easy. I have never struggled so much before, I was pushing so hard."

The win was the first by a team other than McLaren and Ferrari since October 2006 and fulfilled the BMW Sauber's pre-season ambition to win their first Formula One race.

Toyota's German Timo Glock took fourth place, the best result of his first full Formula One season and Ferrari driver Felipe Massa did well to claim a highly eventful fifth.

The Brazilian now joins Hamilton in second place in the driver's title race.

Italian Jarno Trulli completed a good day for the Toyota team with sixth place with Honda's Rubens Barrichello and Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel filling the other point-scoring positions.

The race started amidst serious concerns over the state of the circuit. Patches of the track surface had crumbled badly during qualifying on Saturday and although running repairs were made overnight, many in the paddock were expecting trouble.

Those concerns translated into a generally cautious attitude amongst the drivers and the start passed without incident.

Nico Rosberg did manage to slip his Williams into fourth place around the outside of Fernando Alonso's Renault at the second corner; but it was a clean getaway for Hamilton's McLaren, Kubica and Raikkonen who started first, second and third respectively.

Raikkonen began to put Kubica under serious pressure, the Finn quickly setting the fastest lap of the race, but Hamilton was moving well clear in front.

His lead was erased though, when the safety car was deployed after German Adrian Sutil's Force India car caught fire.

As the field bunched up, the leaders ducked into the pits to refuel. Raikkonen and Kubica emerged from the garage ahead of Hamilton, but were held up by a red-light at the end of the pit lane.

Inexplicably, Hamilton did not realise that his two rivals were stationary ahead of him and after pulling away from his garage he barrelled into the back of Raikkonen ending his own race and that of the reigning world champion.

"I don't know what happened to be honest," Hamilton said. "I was comfortably in the lead, it was looking like an easy win. Then I went in for the pit stop. It was not a good stop and I saw the two guys in front of me battling in the pit lane.

"I saw the red light but by that time it was a bit late. It was not exactly a racing incident as such, it was unfortunate.

"It was one of those things. It is different to if you crash into the wall and you are angry. It is not like that. I apologise to Kimi for ruining his race."

Rosberg was also caught up in the incident and though he was able to continue after some hasty repairs to his front wing, his chances of a points finish were ruined.

Heidfeld was now leading the grand prix, with Barrichello and Williams' Kazuki Nakajima lying second and third.

Heidfeld, his one-stop strategy working perfectly, soon pitted and could not stay ahead of Kubica who had emerged unscathed from the pit lane chaos. Kubica knew he would need one more fuel stop, so he pushed his BMW to the absolute limit to establish a significant margin between himself and his teammate.

With 22 laps remaining the Pole pitted for the final time, emerging safely in front of Heidfeld.

Scottish veteran Coulthard was now in third place with a mad scramble for points unfolding behind him.

There was no catching Kubica though, and there were scenes of joy in the BMW garage as he crossed the finish line to become the first ever Polish grand prix winner.