Robert Kubica has expressed his 'surprise' that McLaren opted to pit Lewis Hamilton for a second time during Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, the second round in the F1 2010 schedule.
Kubica and Hamilton were battling for second place, when the Englishman was called into the pits on lap 34, a decision Lewis later said ruined 'one of the best drives of his life' [see separate story – click here
Speaking in the post-race press conference, after taking the runners-up spot behind Melbourne winner, Jenson Button, Kubica agreed that the decision was a 'strange' one.
"I had more challenge from Hamilton [than the Ferrari's] and I was very surprised he pitted," Kubica told reporters. "First of all I thought it was a drive through as for me it was strange that he was pitting. He was much quicker than me. He was not far behind Jenson and at that point of the race if he had managed to overtake me, most probably he would go for it.
"He had quite a difficult time to catch me although there were a couple of places where he was very close to me and I think once he overshoot the braking. We were very close to touching, but then I had to take care of my tyres.
"Felipe came [up] quite quickly behind me [too] but I knew the cars behind would struggle even more with the tyres, so I just settled on putting in consistent laps. As soon as I tried to push I did like three or four-tenths quicker a lap but then the lap again was four-tenths slower, so I just put up my pace which I thought would be reasonable without mistakes and tried to bring the car home."
Pressed on what it was like to have Hamilton behind him, Kubica added that it was tough to keep him at bay.
"It was quite difficult because we are quite quick on the straight but McLaren, with the device that they are using, they are extremely quick and it was very, very difficult. He was much quicker than me, his tyres were in better shape and he had a more competitive car," Kubica continued.
"I knew that without a mistake though it would be difficult for him to overtake me, but I think he once tried before corner eleven and I didn't see him in the mirrors and I thought he was on the inside. I left a space and it just shows that they were really quick. Jenson was side-by-side with me in the middle of the straight going into turn 13 [earlier in the race]. That's how it is.
"[Like I said] I was surprised when he pitted. It was very good for me, because I could just concentrate on saving the tyres, driving my pace and not concentrating on looking in the mirror and just blocking him, so it was a much better, much easier race for me."