Robert Kubica and Adrian Sutil were left to reflect on what might have been in Bahrain after a coming together on the opening lap ruined their chances of scoring points in the F1 season opener.
The pair came together exiting turn one after being unsighted by a cloud of smoke coming from the rear of the Red Bull of Mark Webber, with both dropping to the rear of the field as a result.
Having pitted early to change tyres, Kubica produced a series of strong laps in the middle of the race as he climbed back through the order but was unable to score on his debut for Renault as he was forced to settle for eleventh – admitting afterwards the incident on lap one had ruined his hopes.
“All our hard work this weekend was undone by the incident on the first lap,” he said. “During the lap to the grid, we had high engine oil levels and we took some out on the grid, but it seemed like Webber had the same problem after turn one: his engine just sucked the oil in and there was a massive amount of smoke in front of me. I think Sutil just didn't lift off because he couldn't see anything and he hit me.
“I spun during the incident and that cooked the rear tyres: they were overheating from that point onwards and I eventually stopped very early on lap twelve. I completed the rest of the race on hard tyres, and that was a big challenge: I just set myself the goal of finishing in the points, but we didn't quite make it. Without the incident on lap one, I think we would have had a very strong points finish because we showed the pace to fight well.
“Overall, it was a positive weekend for us, though: we were well prepared after the winter; the team did a fantastic job at the track and back in Enstone to get the cars ready with the new package, and we didn't have any issues with the engine or the brakes. Now, we need to keep working and keep pushing.”
Having impressed in both practice and qualifying, Sutil was hopeful of scoring his first points of the year but the Force India driver agreed with Kubica that the opening lap incident had ended his hopes.
“At least we finished,” Sutil, who could at least console himself with the second quickest lap of the race, said. “After the incident in the first corner it was the maximum we could do. We had a good race in the end, learning a lot about the tyres and how the car behaves at the end of a race, but the incident pretty much destroyed my hopes of getting any points. I don't really know what happened in that corner - I was driving and then there was a big cloud of smoke so I was blind going into it. I touched someone and spun and that was it. It's a shame but we will keep pushing for the next race.”