Monaco. 14 May 2010. Robert Kubica is on it... big-time. His Renault is a yellow-and-black blur, perfectly controlled teetering on the limit of adhesion. He is visibly lightning fast whichever of the principality's pavements you choose to watch from, within touching distance of the embodiment of the limits of physics.
He's inch - no, millimetre - perfect at every corner. The car is consistent and predictable, no question, but Kubica is extracting 100 percent of its potential. Around the tortuous streets of Monte Carlo, this is his one chance to make the difference.
Etched in the memory is Casino Square. At the exit of the right-hander, he is impressive, but then you stroll back around the track to the entry of the corner and look towards Mirabeau. The cars roar into view exiting Massenet and turn in. The rear of the Renault drifts out a little, enough to make the angle of the car ideal to carry the maximum speed over the crest at the exit, but never enough to lose momentum or, worse, clatter into the barrier.
Some have the odd lap where they achieve near-perfection, but they have other laps where the rear rotates that bit too far and they have to correct, delaying the application of full throttle by crucial moments.
Kubica, meanwhile, is inch-perfect lap after lap. He really is a contender.
The fastest man of Thursday practice is Fernando Alonso, the other stand out driver. But when he clatters into the barrier at Massenet on Saturday morning, my mind leaps back to a Friday evening chat with AUTOSPORT grand prix editor Mark Hughes, who had watched on the outside of that very corner the day before and commented on how Alonso was mightily committed, but one mistake away from a shunt.
Kubica is the same, never more than a millimetre from a shunt, but he makes no such blunder all weekend. Only the Red Bulls prevent him taking an incredible win - but there is no doubt which driver was the star of that weekend.
It's rare as a journalist that you see feats of driving that stand out in a field of such extraordinary quality, but what Kubica did at Monaco merits comparison with anything the likes of Ayrton Senna managed around the streets. He was that good.
Watch Kubica at Monaco and you have no doubts that he can become world champion one day.
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