Despite having stirred up the controversy over Lewis Hamilton's driving standards before the weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, Robert Kubica decided to distance himself from the first corner incident which played a major part in dictating the result of the race.

Hamilton was central to the piece as, having made a poor getaway and seen front row rival Kimi Raikkonen assume the early advantage, he attempted to wrest back the lead at turn one, cutting across the nose of McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen in a bid to seize the inside line. Once there, the Briton braked later than anyone around him, overshooting the corner and forcing Raikkonen, Kovalainen and title rival Felipe Massa, who had pursued the outside line, out beyond the edge of the circuit.

The 'move' allowed Kubica and eventual race winner Fernando Alonso, amongst others, to get past the four expected frontrunners, while Kovalainen eventually scrabbled back on track in third place. Massa and Hamilton were fifth and sixth at the end of the lap, with Raikkonen running behind the Briton, but the two title contenders would clash again on lap two, with Massa spinning Hamilton around at the chicane as he attempted to take back fifth place. Both drivers would subsequently receive drive-thru' penalties for their actions, dropping them out of contention, although Massa would eventually claw back two points in the championship battle after being classified in seventh place to Hamilton's twelfth. Kovalainen retired soon after, but Raikkonen held on to claim third place behind Alonso and Kubica.

"I don't know what happened in the first corner, so it's difficult to judge," the Pole said when asked for his views on Hamilton's ambitious dive to the inside of Raikkonen, "I didn't manage a good start as I had some slipping clutch in the initial phase, so [Jarno] Trulli went by me - at least, I think it was Trulli, definitely one of the Toyotas."

The BMW Sauber driver, who remains an outsider for the world title after closing to within twelve points of Hamilton's lead with second place in Japan, admitted that he had attempted a similar line to his British rival - and could have had similar consequences.

"I decided to go on the inside and braked really too late," he explained, "If someone had managed to take the apex, I would have, for sure, have hit him. But suddenly everybody was straight. I locked the front wheel quite a lot, but managed to stay on the track - I think I was the only one who did really.

"Okay, I didn't take the apex, but I was still on the track and managed to pull out first after corner one. However, I was not really able to pull away - Fernando was keeping the gap and I was trying everything. After the first pit-stop he was in front of me....."

From challenging for victory, Kubica again found himself battling, sometimes wheel-to-wheel, with a Ferrari, just as he had in the closing stages of last year's race with Massa.

"It was not so easy [fighting Raikkonen], but I knew that it was only possible for him to overtake me under braking into the first corner," he pointed out, "I was trying to exit the last corner as fast as possible to get as much speed as possible but, of course, with the tow, he was catching me.

"There is no space for two cars to go through. I was on the inside and just did not back off - and he didn't back off either. I managed to stay on the track, but nearly went off, but that's it.

"I had quite a lot of problems with graining, so I was hoping the graining phase would soon finish, and I was also trying to clean the front tyres with quite aggressive driving into the hairpin, just to try to pull out of this graining phase. For four or five laps, it was very difficult, but then I was able to pull away and that was that. I knew I had to survive this four or five laps, although I didn't know exactly how much graining there would be, but I did survive them and, once the tyres were cleaned out, I was able to pull away."


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