After Vitaly Petrov took his maiden Formula 1 podium finish at the Australian Grand Prix, one of the first people to offer his congratulations was the Russian’s original team-mate Robert Kubica, confined to his Italian hospital bed after his shocking rally accident in February.
Watching the race at the Pole’s bedside was his girlfriend Edyta, and his faithful manager, Daniele Morelli, who told La Stampa: “Robert followed the race like a child follows his favourite Disney cartoon.
“In the end he said the car showed performance beyond expectations, even though he had realised from the Barcelona test that it could be competitive.
“He wanted to congratulate Petrov for a superb performance in both qualifying and the race.”
Morelli added that Kubica was touched by the many tribute messages of goodwill from this in the sport.
“[He was] impressed and moved,” Morelli added. “He feels he has many friends.”
Petrov was hugely impressive in his first race outing of 2011, prompting the Russian to tout himself as a potential team leader.
However, stand-in team-mate Nick Heidfeld had a compromised race after his right-hand sidepod suffered a severe mauling during the race, with the team releasing pictures of his battered R31 after the German copped plenty of criticism for a lacklustre race in which he finished 12th.
“[Vitaly] made some good progress but knowing the pace of Robert, whether he could have been better or worse, I don’t want to think of it,” replied team boss Eric Boullier.