MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canadian Grand Prix winner Robert Kubica said he will go flat out to win the Formula One title after taking the championship lead on Sunday.
BMW Sauber’s Polish driver claimed his maiden Grand Prix victory on Sunday at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to take over the lead from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and he vowed not to give it up easily.
“If you are leading the world championship after seven races and, apart from Australia, your worst finish is fourth, well, you are going to use the opportunities,” said Kubica who was second in Malaysia and Monaco.
“I hope the team will give me the maximum and I will give my maximum to fight for it,” added the 23-year-old. “We have to work, fight and push but we certainly won’t be lacking motivation.
“If you are the leader after seven races then you clearly have a car that can win races. If you have a top car then you are a top team,” added the Krakow-born driver.
Kubica, who suffered a horrific crash here last year, proved a popular winner with fans, including a substantial Polish contingent, chanting his name as he took to the podium.
The victory was the first by a team other than Ferrari or McLaren since the Japanese Grand Prix of October 2006 won by Spain’s double world champion Fernando Alonso, a run of 24 races in a row.
“It was a great atmosphere and great to have so many Polish fans and others cheering for me. It was very special for me to win here, especially after last year,” said Kubica, now four points clear of Hamilton.
After qualifying in second place on Saturday, Kubica had been downbeat about his chances, accepting that Hamilton had the fastest car.
But the race turned out to be a complete reversal of Canada 2007, when Hamilton celebrated his first Formula One win while Kubica ended up in hospital fortunate to have escaped serious injury.
On Sunday the Briton kissed goodbye to his championship lead when he shunted into the back of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in the pits, ending the race for both title contenders and gifting Kubica his chance of glory.
Kubica said it was clear that without the incident the British driver, who had been in the lead, would have been the quickest and that work remained if BMW were to be capable of winning in normal circumstances.
“We are working on it. Our target this year was to win a Grand Prix and we have done it,” he said.
“But clearly Hamilton was the quickest here - he made a mistake though and he paid for it,” he added.
“I have to thank him that he chose Kimi and not me,” added the Pole, who had been alongside Raikkonen waiting for the red light to go out at the pit lane exit when Hamilton ploughed into the Finn.
Kubica spent much of last season asking for changes in his car and he said his results so far this season showed he was right.
“There were a few things that were not working properly and I pushed to get them fixed. Unfortunately we couldn’t fix them during the season.
“This year’s results show how much I struggled last year - maybe more than people thought. But the effect has been very positive for myself and for the team,” he added.
The win was also the first for BMW Sauber and was made even sweeter by Kubica’s German team-mate Nick Heidfeld taking second place.
Heidfeld said it was important to enjoy the moment but not put extra pressure on the Swiss based team.
“I think we have to find the happy medium. We can all be very proud of what we have achieved but it doesn’t mean we have to win every week,” he said.
Editing by Alan Baldwin