Kubica: Poor form makes not racing a bit easiser

Robert Kubica admits Williams’ lack of pace has taken away some of the pain of having missed out on a race seat.

Last year Kubica was battling to secure a 2018 Williams race seat but lost out to former Renault test driver Sergey Sirotkin.

He did, however, sign with the team as their reserve driver and has driven the FW41 in testing as well as Friday practices.

But while Kubica would rather be the one racing the car, he admits Williams’ poor performances have made it a “bit easier” not racing.

Asked if he’d rather be in the car than on the sidelines, he told Motorsport Week: “For sure, I would like to deny it, the fact is this is a great opportunity to live my passion and be in the paddock and to drive an F1 car.

“With the current regulation where there are such restrictions on testing, it’s not easy.

“You don’t see many [test drivers] or none at all being so active in the car, so this is a great opportunity for me but for sure, once I realised I can do it and I felt I could race despite my limitations.

“Last year the test gave me quite a lot of confidence, I was building up confidence and the comfort I can do it.

“Of course I’d prefer to be racing, but the fact is when you see the performance of the car it’s a bit easier to not race, because if we were fighting for podiums or top positions then it would be harder to not race.

“But somehow it’s not a question of position, I would be lying if I said if I’m fine with it.

“I’m fine because in the end, I accept it and once I decided to say yes to Williams’ offer, I knew where I was going and I think I have a professional approach and I try to help the team and I’m a part of the team and this is a good aspect.”

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Kubica paid ‘too high a price’, lost Ferrari chance

Robert Kubica has confirmed he agreed a deal to race alongside Fernando Alonso at Ferrari for the 2012 F1 season but was robbed of the opportunity when he crashed during a rally.

A star of the future and, touted as a possible World Champion, Kubica took a moment away from Formula 1 back in 2011 to contest the Andorra rally.

It almost cost him his life. It did cost him his Formula 1 career.

He crashed heavily and suffered life-threatening injuries, most notably to his arm.

And while Kubica has returned to the test arena with Williams this season, he is left to ponder what could have been.

Speaking on F1’s official podcast hosted by Tom Clarkson, he admitted he considered withdrawing from the rally event but decided to press on.

He was, however, aware that “the team I was going to drive for next year, I was not allowed to rally.”

Asked by Clarkson whether that team was Ferrari, he replied: “Yes.

“[The] First [goal] is to enter F1. Second is to become an established driver in F1, so you have good value, a good reputation, which is more difficult than to enter.

“Third, you win a World Championship or become a Ferrari driver. I haven’t won a World Championship, in the end I haven’t become a Ferrari driver but I was very close.”

And knowing how close he was to that dream only adds “additional pain” down the line.

He explained: “My recovery was so hard that for the first 16-18 months it did not hurt.

“I was fighting, I was concentrating on recovery, I was going through a difficult period.

“The more time was going the more difficult it was becoming, because the hope that things can get sorted are disappearing.

“There were moments I was recovering extraordinarily good and there were then months when surgeries went wrong and I went back six months instead of improving.

“It was painful [not racing in F1] but it was not more painful because I knew I was going to race for Ferrari.”

As for his decision to even take part in rallies, Kubica says he wanted to be a better driver.

He added: “I thought rallying would give me this. And it really gave me [that]. The problem is I paid too high a price.”

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Kubica sets timeline for 2019 return

Robert Kubica has said the “next two to three months” will determine whether he will make a full return to Formula 1.

Kubica missed out on a seat at Williams to Sergey Sirotkin – the only driver yet to score a point in 2018 – this season and has been acting as their reserve and development driver instead.

After getting a taste of the 2018 cars with two FP1 sessions so far, Kubica is still eyeing a race seat for the 2019 campaign.

However, he is not overly confident about his chances and said that he finds himself in a “hard” situation.

“I don’t hide that for ten months returning to the grid has been a realistic goal,” Kubica told Poland’s Swiat Wyscigow.

“It’s not easy, and it’s hard for me to talk about my chances, because at some point I was rating them this year at 99.9 per cent. Some tell me I was very lucky!

“Now there are several teams who I have already talked to or I can talk to and everything will be played out over the next two to three months.

“If I put myself into the role of the team bosses, the decision to put me in the car is not easy and there are no guarantees.”

As for Williams’ ongoing woes with the uncompetitive FW41, Kubica is refusing to completely write off the Grove-based teams as the worst one on the grid.

“I think nobody was expecting Williams, which was a midfield team, to struggle so much,” he added.

“I think nobody was expecting Sauber being really the slowest, weakest team last year, fighting for midfield position or going into Q3.

“So you know things can change very quickly in Formula 1. So I think it is unfair to put a sticker on Williams that it is the weakest team.

“It is true that it is the weakest team in this period, but if we say about next year, who knows?”

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Kubica on Williams’ strength: The livery

Robert Kubica may not be ingratiating himself with his bosses after telling journalists that the best thing about the FW41 is the “livery.”

Kubica was back behind the wheel of the Williams F1 car for Friday’s first practice at the Austrian Grand Prix.

He completed 38 laps and was slowest of the 20 drivers.

Asked after the session what he felt was the car’s strongest trait, he told ESPN: “Engine. Power unit.”

Pressed as to whether that was ‘it,’ he replied: “You asked for one!? Livery is nice, colours are nice…”

Kubica acknowledge that there is no quick fix to Williams issues with the FW41, which has managed just four points this season leaving the team stuck on the bottom rung in the championship.

He does, however, believe that adding downforce to the car will go some way towards helping.

“There is only one thing which is changing performance of the car of three seconds or two seconds per lap; and its name is downforce.

“If you have more downforce, everything becomes much easier, drivers they drive better, engineers they have more room for setup, the tyres are working better because you switch them on earlier and you have less degradation.

“There is no medicine maybe for everything, but there is a big medicine which is downforce in an F1 car.”

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Kubica: 2019 options look limited

Robert Kubica believes that his choices of race seats for the 2019 season rests on other driver choices, and that there may not be much available.

The Pole was overlooked as Williams chose Sergey Sirotkin for their second seat for this season, but the Russian is yet to score a point in Formula 1.

Kubica has said that he has to be realistic, and he admits that there might not be many options to choose from.

“I am only targeting to be on the grid with Williams,” Kubica said. “My target is to be in the grid and then we will see. Of course realistically speaking there are not many teams I can realistically end up with or talk with.”

The Pole drove the Williams in FP1 in Austria on Friday morning, but finished bottom of the 20 drivers in the session.

He says that things can change quickly, however, and that the performance of the Williams would not put him off driving for them next year.

“I think nobody was expecting Williams, which is a midfield team, to struggle so much,” the Pole said. “I think nobody expected Sauber [to be] fighting for midfield positions and going into Q3. Things can change very quickly in Formula 1.

“The team, I think, has potential and shown in the past that they can do a good job and deliver a good car and I don’t think that in a couple of months all the people become not capable of doing it,” he added. “Of course there are things to be sorted but this we keep internally. As every team in the paddock, you can always improve.”

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Kubica: I drive to what my limitations allow

Robert Kubica has explained his adapted driving style, saying it may be different to ten years but the “outcome is the same or nearly the same.”

The Polish driver returned to action at a Formula 1 grand prix weekend when he drove the Williams FW41 during Friday’s first practice in Spain.

During the session, Formula 1 took a drive with him with in-car shots showing the driver steering using mostly one arm.

Kubica explained: “I drive to how my body, and what my limitations, allow me.

“After my accident, I discovered to do a roundabout in a road car, you don’t have to grab steering wheel. You can use friction to turn. F1 is not a road car.

“But I have also been in the school where they give you a bird in the hand and you have to hold it so it doesn’t fly away but you can’t hold it too tight that it gets scared.

“This is the way you have to hold the steering wheel.

“When I was racing in the past, once in Malaysia, one of the first weekends I was doing [with BMW] in 2006, there was footage when you saw me driving with three fingers open.

“I remember engineers were shocked. They said ‘why?’ I said ‘I don’t know’, probably you don’t need to use all power you have, you just have to use what is enough.

“Probably the way I drive is enough what I’m doing otherwise I would not be here, otherwise I think I will not have this opportunity or tests last year and I would not planned to do 160 laps in F1 car [in testing].

“It looks different than 10 years ago. And it looks different to the others. The outcome is the same or nearly the same.”

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Kubica returns to action for Williams

Robert Kubica has been named as part of Williams' driver line-up for the first in-season test after the Spanish Grand Prix.

The reserve and development driver has returned to simulator duties after driving the FW41 at the Circuit de Catalunya at the winter tests.

But the Pole will now return behind the wheel for real on May 16, with junior driver Oliver Rowland getting his first run-out on May 15 since joining from Renault in the off season.

Force India are the other team thus far to reveal their driver line-up for the first official in-season test of 2018.

 

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