Robert Kubica’s dry sense of humour being fully exercised. Reflecting on his first ever win at the end of a highly dramatic race, the Pole gave a wry grin before thanking his old sparring partner, Lewis Hamilton.
‘I suppose I have to thank Lewis for crashing into Kimi and not me,’ said Kubica when discussing the moment that changed his fortunes.
Kubica knew all about it because he had a ringside seat for the collision that had taken Hamilton and Raikkonen out of the race.
For the first 16 laps, Kubica had been unable to do anything about the disappearing McLaren as Hamilton extended his lead to six seconds.
Make no mistake, that McLaren was the class of the field as it smoothed out the kerbs and applied the power like no other car.
Hamilton was feeling confident and comfortable, ready to deal with the inevitable safety car period which was bound to come on a track such as this.
In the end, it was Adrian Sutil’s hobbled car that caused the safety car to appear and you could say that Force India helped Kubica and BMW to their first win.
The incident occurred right at the start of the first pit stop window. As soon as the pit lane opened, the leading cars dived into the pits.
Hamilton’s lead had shrunk to nothing. That much he expected. What he did not anticipate was a slight problem – not specified at the time of writing – which delayed the McLaren long enough to have Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen get away first.
The Ferrari and the BMW ran side-by-side to the end of the pits – where the lights changed to red as the safety car led the rest of the field past the pit lane exit.
Kubica and Raikkonen saw the red. Hamilton did not.
Possibly agitated because of a hard-earned lead frittered away, Hamilton added to his problems by realising too late that the light was red and swerved left into the back of Raikkonen.
Nico Rosberg, following Hamilton, then hit the back of the McLaren. Game over for Hamilton and Raikkonen.
Hamilton told BBC Radio 5 Live that it was, ‘just one of those things; you can’t even say it was a racing accident. It’s not like I made a driving error and hit the wall. Very frustrating.’
Hamilton apologised to Raikkonen who, in a rare demonstration of emotion, had angrily pointed at the lights as he walked past Hamilton’s car.
Kubica, meanwhile, had powered into a lead he was destined never to lose as the lights turned green even before the dust had settled.
Formula 1 needed a result like this, Kubica’s victory and BMW’s one-two being applauded from one end of the pit lane to the other.
Formula 1 arguably did not need the appearance of Document number 41, issued at 15.30, about 45 minutes after the race had finished.
Having considered the incident between Raikkonen, Hamilton and Rosberg, the Stewards had decided to drop both Hamilton and Rosberg 10 grid places at the next race in France.
There’s no doubt that Hamilton had made a fundamental error – he had been warned by team radio about the red light – but the penalty seemed, to some, a bit harsh for a championship contender.
As Kubica enjoyed his day of days in the paddock, Hamilton, almost unnoticed, made a quiet exit with three friends.
If they were honest, it was not the way either driver expected to end the day.