I've always been impressed by the way Lewis Hamilton rates Robert Kubica as one of the very best drivers he has to compete against.

Furthermore, the look of sheer pleasure on Bernie Ecclestone's face as he congratulated the young Pole for taking pole in Bahrain at least allowed the sport's commercial rights' holder a few moments' respite from worrying about the damage Max Mosley's extra-curricular activities have inflicted on the sport these last couple of weeks.

OK, so Robert's BMW Sauber was running the opening stint of the Sakhir race with less fuel aboard than the Ferraris and McLarens which surrounded him on the starting grid. But it was still a very creditable effort – and although the BMW stopped three laps before Raikkonen and four laps before Massa, he was hardly qualifying on vapour.

Ron Dennis, the McLaren chairman, doubts that BMW can sustain the front running pace, but Ferrari sporting director Stefano Domenicali thinks otherwise.

"Kubica did a very nice, positive race," said Domenicali. "The pace he and BMW have deserves respect. He is a driver who I believe will be in the title fight until the end."

Hamilton, who had one of his worst F1 weekends at the Sakhir desert circuit, will be sparing no effort to ensure he is too.