Robert Kubica described his second place in the Australian Grand Prix as a "special" result for the improving Renault team, but warned that it was not the kind of finish the squad could expect in a straightforward race at the moment.
The Pole made good early progress from ninth on the grid, and then emerged in third when the stops for slick tires were complete. He gained a position through Sebastian Vettel's retirement from the lead, and then fended off a string of rivals to hold second to the flag.
"Unfortunately, Australia has not always been lucky for me, in the last two years I could have finished on the podium easily," said Kubica, who had a late tangle with Vettel a year ago while fighting for second in Melbourne. "To be honest, we were not expecting to finish on the podium, for Renault and myself it is a special result. We were pushing hard during the winter and this was the best result we could get for the beginning of the season. This is big thanks to all the guys.
"We have to stay realistic, we are not up to pace to finish on the podium normally. We need to keep pushing and I am sure we will manage sooner or later to be on the pace."
Kubica had briefly been ahead of eventual winner Jenson Button during the flurry of tire changes as the track dried, but could not fend off the McLaren as its slicks were already warmed up.
"It was difficult because we struggled with the warm-up so when we saw Button was quick on slicks we pitted on the same lap as Felipe [Massa]," Kubica explained. "My guys did a fantastic job, we overtook Felipe in the pit stop but Button was much quicker with one or two laps on his tires – he built temperature up, and they are very quick on straightline speed. I was not confident with the conditions as it was my first lap on slicks so it was hard to fight with Button."
The subsequent decision not to make a second tire stop later in the race then proved key to Kubica's result, as the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber lost ground when they came in for fresh rubber. Kubica said he had initially expected to pit until the team realized that nursing the tires to the finish could pay dividends.
"I thought we would pit again but when we had big degradation I asked if we should pit, they said if we could manage not to do it," Kubica explained. "I had Lewis attacking me, he came very quickly, then he decided to pit, then Felipe came. I was hoping with good speed to keep second until the end."