They may be good friends and poker buddies away from the racetrack – and indeed were mooted as potential team-mates in 2011 until Felipe Massa's re-signing by Ferrari – but Robert Kubica is insistent that Fernando Alonso was in the wrong in the British Grand Prix and could have avoided receiving a penalty had he only let the Renault back past him again.
After an excellent start had initially elevated Kubica to third, he and Alonso were duelling over fourth position at Silverstone – with the latter keen to make back places following a tardy getaway – when the Spaniard went for the outside line through Vale on lap 16 and consequently shot across the grass at the following Club Corner, thereby gaining the spot over his Polish rival.
Failing to give the place back earned the double F1 World Champion a subsequent drive-through penalty that left him outside of the points and frustrated indeed [see separate story – click here
] – but the Kraków native argues that the man who in Valencia a fortnight ago had railed that 'even a child in the grandstand' knows that it is illegal to overtake the safety car only had himself to blame.
“I had a dream first lap, gaining a lot of places,” Kubica reported of the race that dealt him his first DNF of the F1 2010 campaign, “but after that our pace was not so good and I was lacking overall grip. Following my pit-stop I had a nice fight with Alonso, but he overtook me by cutting Turn Eight. I was on the inside, he was on the outside and he passed me with all four wheels off the track.
“I informed the team that he would have to give back the position, but then we had a driveshaft failure at the rear of the car, so all I could do was bring it back to the pits and retire.”
Indeed, it was a miserable day all-round for Renault at Silverstone, with the sister R30 of Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov taking the chequered flag a lowly 13th following a slightly scrappy race and late puncture that hampered the 25-year-old's challenge in his first British Grand Prix.
“I think it was possible to finish in the points,” mused the 'Vyborg Rocket', “but I had some bad luck with a puncture after the safety car period which cost me a lot of time. My start was not too bad, and I made up three positions on the first lap. After that it was really difficult to overtake because there are no slow corners at this circuit, but I tried my best. It's good to have finished the race, because it gives us lots of data and gives me more experience of the track.”
Only the second time all year that Renault has failed to get either of its two cars into the points – following the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir four months ago, when an opening lap clash with Force India's Adrian Sutil severely compromised Kubica's effort and left him to recover to eleventh place – the result also saw the Enstone-based outfit cede valuable ground to chief rival Mercedes Grand Prix in its pursuit of fourth spot in the constructors' title chase. Ground that needs to be swiftly regained, underlines team principal Eric Boullier.
“Robert had an exceptional start to the race, but unfortunately this was to be the only enjoyable moment of the day,” reflected the Frenchman phlegmatically. “It was disappointing to see him retire, but the car has been extremely reliable this year and this is his first retirement of the season.