Rubens Barrichello admits that he thought he had blown his chances of finishing on the podium at the Australian Grand Prix after fluffing his first start with Brawn's all-conquering BGP001 - but issued a warning to those who thought his car was only good because of one thing.
The Brazilian had only narrowly missed out to team-mate Jenson Button as the 'new' team - raised from the ashes of Honda - claimed the front row in Melbourne, and suggested that it would be a good bet for victory. But, while Button duly led from lights to flag to give former Benetton and Ferrari tactician Ross Brawn a debut win as team owner, Barrichello was made to fight for every position before ultimately being gifted back his second place.
"I never thought I could finish on the podium after the start," the most-capped F1 starter of all confessed, "I hit the anti-stall, so the car went into neutral. The revs were on and my car moved and stopped and that's when I hit anti-stall. You jump into neutral if you don't have the right revs.
"[After that], I had to recover and get the clutch back on and go. When you do that, you use a lot of throttle and there was a lot of wheelspin, so I lost a lot of pace compared to [other] people [on the run to turn one] and was hit from behind from a McLaren. I went on the inside but the McLaren, I don't know who, hit me really fast on my back and that put me sideways. I could definitely manage to stop, I wasn't going to hit anyone, but the McLaren came up far too fast behind me and threw me into the side of the Red Bull. It was a fairly big hit and I thought my race was over.
"I thought the car was done from that crash, but I survived quite well and, if there is one thing we can say, it is that, if people think that our car is only good because of the diffuser, that big hit broke the diffuser completely - and the car was very strong after that. It didn't have a fantastic pace as the temperature dropped, but it had a pace, so it was still a good car after all."
Barrichello's troubles weren't confined to the opening few hundred yards either, as his desperation to make up for lost time saw him come into contact with former world champion Kimi Raikkonen several laps later.
"On the first stint, my nose was falling apart and I lost braking stability when I hit Kimi as well," he revealed, "He closed the door and I couldn't avoid him, so I had to change the nose and had a difficult pit-stop as well. There was no-one to blame though, as we had 1500km [of testing] each, and one day for the mechanics to get used to things. They didn't have a lot of sleep before they came here..."
After all that, and with a late pit-stop designed to counteract any graining from the soft option Bridgestones that the team had left to last, Barrichello didn't believe that he would be able to join Button in the top three - only for his luck to turn again.
I had a lot of mixed emotions during the race, but it was fantastic," he admitted, "I think the team was trying to capitalise on the problems that we went through, and made [the middle stint] as long as possible. We knew that the softer of the two tyres could have some graining issues so, with the small problems that I had driving the car, I was very happy to keep pace with the guys in front on three stops.
"I had a fantastic car when I put on the softer tyres - even though there were some bits missing, it was a good car to drive - but I was looking after it when, all of a sudden, I heard on the radio 'crash, crash, crash - be careful'."