MONTREAL (Reuters) - Poland’s Robert Kubica took his and BMW Sauber’s first grand prix victory in Canada on Sunday to wrest the Formula One championship lead from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton on a miserable afternoon for the Briton.
Hamilton, who enjoyed his breakthrough win on the same course last year, inexplicably drove into the back of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari in a pit-lane collision that put the top two drivers out of the race.
In their absence, Kubica seized his chance.
He took the lead on lap 43 when Toyota’s Timo Glock pitted and took the checkered flag ahead of German team mate Nick Heidfeld in a momentous one-two finish for the Swiss-based team.
“Fantastic race, fantastic for the team, for me and for my country and for the fans who I thank for cheering for me here in Canada,” said Kubica after the Polish anthem had been played for the first time at a Formula One race.
The win capped an amazing turnaround for the 23-year-old Kubica, the first Pole to race in Formula One, after surviving a horrific crash in last year’s race on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Scot David Coulthard, the oldest driver in the race at 37, rolled back the years to finish third for Red Bull ahead of Glock with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa fifth.
“I would never have expected a podium this weekend - I’ve had a horrible start to the year,” commented Coulthard after scoring his first points of the season.
Kubica has 42 points with Hamilton and Massa both on 38 after seven races.
While Kubica enjoyed the champagne moment, the race will be remembered as much for the pit lane pile-up which left Hamilton apologizing to his closest rival.
With the safety car deployed, Raikkonen had stopped at the red light at the end of the pit lane on lap 20 with Kubica also waiting alongside. Hamilton then rammed into the back of the Finn’s car.
Williams’ Nico Rosberg shunted the rear of Hamilton’s McLaren but the German was able to continue the race after stopping for a new front wing.
“It’s not exactly a racing incident as such but I think it’s really unfortunate. It was one of those things I guess,” said Hamilton, who had gone into the race with a three point lead over Raikkonen.
After claiming pole position on Saturday, the Briton was hot favorite to repeat last year’s victory and was leading comfortably before the safety car came out on the 18th lap.
“It’s a lot different if you crash into the wall and you are angry with yourself. It’s not like that. I apologize to Kimi if I’ve ruined his race but that sort of thing happens,” said Hamilton.
“I would just rather that neither of us was out,” he added. “We were so quick, I was breezing it. But next time.”
Heidfeld led before a list of drivers, including Honda’s Rubens Barrichello, Coulthard and Toyota’s Jarno Trulli, to lead before their pit stops.
Trulli finished sixth, with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello seventh for Honda and Germany’s Sebastian Vettel taking the final point for Toro Rosso.
Editing by Alan Baldwin