Robert Kubica has warned that Renault is still a long way from being fast enough to win races, despite its Melbourne podium, but is optimistic that the team can fight with Mercedes.
The Pole's second place in Australia was a huge boost for Renault, as Kubica fought off pressure from a train of pursuers for much of the race to hold on to the position. He admitted that the unusual conditions helped bring him into contention, but said he had no qualms about taking results from crazy races.
"It's clear that the pace of our package is not up there and everybody realized that Australia was our chance, for now," Kubica said. "For sure, if you put up all cars on pure performance, we are not there. This is quite clear. But races are races, points are the same for each race, so if it was an opportunistic podium or pure pace, it doesn't matter.
"We brought 18 points home, which I think is a great achievement for everybody in the team, especially after a hard winter for everybody on the race team and in the factory. We've had a big push in the last two months to improve the car. There's still quite a long way to go, but I think it was a great achievement."
Kubica reckons Renault's true pace is near the top of the "best of the rest" group, and that it should be aiming to fight with Mercedes.
"I think we are not just a bit off, the gap is quite big. Fortunately, we are in a position to be in front of the kind of second group, where it's Williams and Force India," he said. "Maybe if Mercedes doesn't get it completely perfect and we get it completely right, we'll be able to fight with them. As we saw in Bahrain, if we'd put everything together we could have qualified and or even raced with Mercedes, but we have to make sure we get everything right and we have to hope that they still have some problems.
"There are many cars around that are very quick – we saw Williams with [Rubens] Barrichello in Australia, [Adrian] Sutil has qualified two times in the top 10, so I think the pack is very close together. That's why I think we have to keep pushing, and the guys have done a very good job bringing some upgrades every race, which is helping us to improve and maybe one day close the gap."