Hamilton - Kubica a contender

McLaren star hails rival's consistency

Lewis Hamilton reckons World Championship leader Robert Kubica will be a title contender for the long haul this season.

Kubica scored both his and BMW Sauber's first victory in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix after McLaren Mercedes driver Hamilton collided with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in the pit lane.

Queueing alongside Kubica as they waited on a red light to rejoin the track under safety car conditions, Raikkonen was hit from behind by Hamilton, forcing both cars into retirement.

Kubica fully exploited the error to take both the chequered flag and a four-point lead in the Drivers' Championship.

Since retiring in the opening race of the season in Australia, the Pole has also been the most consistent driver on the grid.

And Hamilton believes his former sparring partner in karts is a definite threat, saying: "I think he's always been a title contender from race one when he qualified second on the grid.

"I've always known he's got great talent and he would be strong as soon as BMW pulled their socks up - and they have done.

"They've done a great job, they've been very consistent and it is three teams at the front really battling it out.

"I think he's going to be pushing us right to the end, although it's not particularly worrying.

"I still feel we can come out on top, but it's going to be a real challenge."


More fallout from Hamilton's Montreal gaffe comes in the form of a 10-place grid penalty for next weekend's French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.

Nevertheless, the 23-year-old is convinced he can come through the field to take a third victory of the season, adding: "It's going to be tough, and we know we are already on the back foot.

"But knowing the pace and momentum we had in Canada, it just shows anything can happen.

"I feel quite confident we can still win there - that's my job. I have to have that belief in myself and the team."

Hamilton was speaking at the launch of the 'Go Motorsport' scheme at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking.

The campaign is designed to inspire the general public into becoming involved in motor racing at any level, either as a competitor, official, trackside marshal or spectator.