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Kubica makes history for Poland 10 Sep 2006

Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1 celebrates third place.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, 10 September 2006

Robert Kubica has become the first Polish driver to score world championship points - and achieve a Formula One podium finish - after his third place for BMW Sauber in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix. The race was only Kubica’s third Formula One start after he was promoted to Jacques Villeneuve’s race seat last month.

Having qualified fifth on the grid, Kubica made an excellent start, quickly moving up to third place. From there he spent much of the afternoon locked in an intense battle with the Ferrari of Felipe Massa, the pair trading positions on several occasions. Their fight was eventually resolved when Massa was forced to pit for an unscheduled stop after flat-spotting a tyre.

He also had to contend with a hard-charging Fernando Alonso, and almost got the better of the world champion as they went side-by-side exiting the pit lane following their second stops. When Alonso retired on lap 44, Kubica’s podium was all but assured.

“Before the race some guys from the team came to me and told me they would like to see me on the podium, I thought it was a joke and now we are here,” said the delighted 21-year-old. “I had a good start, but unfortunately locked the front wheels in the first corner, had flat spots and the first stint was quite difficult as I had a vibration. It was always a tough race as I had to fight with Massa and Alonso. Lapping the guys did not help as I was the first one of the group to lap them and I always lost one second.

“I came out of the second pit stop side by side with Alonso. Then his engine blew up and it was really risky as there was oil, Massa went off and I think had a puncture. The end of the race was quite easy for me and I just had to bring the car home. I now have the first podium of my life in Formula One. I want to thank the team for giving me this opportunity. We all are very, very proud.”

The six points Kubica earned means he is now 15th in the drivers’ championship - just one place and one point behind Villeneuve.