Robert Kubica may head to this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix with a heavy heart following the death of Poland's president, but knows that he stands a good chance of adding to his already surprising points tally at Shanghai International Circuit.

Kubica has admitted that he is still in shock at the news that president Lech Kaczynski and a number of fellow politicians had been killed in an air crash in Russia. The aircraft taking Kaczynski to a 70th anniversary memorial for the WWII massacre at Katyn came down in fog, killing all 97 passengers and crew. A week of mourning has been declared.

"I am deeply shocked and saddened by the news of this tragedy, which is unprecedented for our nation," Kubica said, "A day of remembrance for the victims of Katyn has become one of deep mourning for the people of Poland. I send my sincerest condolences to the families of the victims and my thoughts are with every one of my fellow Poles, who have all been deeply affected by this tragedy."

The Renault F1 pilot will attempt to put his grief to one side when he arrives in China, looking to build on strong recent results in both Australia and Malaysia. After a podium visit in Melbourne, he claimed fourth place - ahead of the Ferraris and McLarens - at Sepang and believes that there is more to come as the regie pushes forward with development of the R30.

"If you had offered me fourth place before the start of the [Sepang] weekend, I would have taken it," Kubica admitted, "Like Australia, it was another strong performance by the whole team and a good weekend all round. In qualifying, we made the right decisions and reacted well to the weather conditions, and, in the race, I made up a couple of places at the start, which was important for the final result. To have scored 30 points in two races is a good achievement and as much as we could have hoped for."

After a couple of dismal seasons for the Enstone equipe, the Pole is delighted with the effort going into keeping him at the right end of the field.

"It's great to see the team pushing so hard and bringing new parts for each race but, as a driver, it's difficult to judge how much the car has improved when you are driving on different circuits each week, and in different weather conditions," he noted, "For example, Sepang is a totally different circuit to Melbourne and requires different characteristics from the car, but we know from the data that the car is getting better and better.

"The Shanghai circuit has a similar layout to Sepang, with both high and low speed corners, so I think we can be competitive there. And we will have some more updates for the car to help us continue closing the gap to the front. Obviously Bahrain was a big disappointment, but it was good to make up the lost ground in the
last two races. We know that our car is still not the quickest, but we have made some good decisions in the races and I feel we really deserve the results we have achieved."

Despite the progress Renault has made, however, Kubica remains wary of those grouping behind the French marque.

"I don't think there are any real surprises this year," he claimed, "Most of the teams are very close together in terms of performance with Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari as the top three teams. We are just behind them, along with Mercedes, and then you have a close fight between Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso, so it's very tight and we need to keep pushing to get closer to the front and to maintain the advantage over the teams behind us."

Kubica's performances in 2010 have not only impressed onlookers, but have helped endear him further to the Renault F1 hierarchy.

"He simply hasn't put a foot wrong," enthused chief race engineer Alan Permane, "He got hit on the first lap in Bahrain, but then battled back strongly to eleventh place. He drove a perfect race in Melbourne under a lot of pressure, and it was the same in Malaysia.

"[Sepang] was certainly encouraging - but it wasn't quite a straightforward weekend, either. We had unusual conditions in qualifying and we managed them very well - the team made the right calls on the tyres, at the right time, where others didn't. In the race, Robert made a great start, gained a couple of places, and from then on it was quite a normal race.

"Robert's very consistent, he's very fast and he's very hard working. We've been extremely impressed with the amount of time he spends with his engineers. He's a very, very good all-round driver."


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