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Exclusive Q&A with Robert Kubica 28 Feb 2007

Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.07 F1 Testing, Day Three, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 24 February 2007. World © Patching/Sutton

BMW Sauber may be keen to play down talk of them being the insider’s tip for 2007, but there’s no denying the F1.07 has shown real potential in testing. And with the hottest new driver of 2006, Robert Kubica, at the wheel, the combination may just prove a winning one. Kubica, however, remains cautious, choosing instead to wait for the reality of Melbourne…

Q: Of the three drivers who stepped into a race seat mid-season last year, you are the only one to retain that seat for 2007. With less than three weeks to go before the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, how are you feeling?
Robert Kubica:
I am very much looking forward to my first full season as a regular race driver. The whole preparation is going well. In some races last year we have shown that we can be competitive and can do well. Now we are concentrating on testing and I hope we are well prepared for Melbourne.

Q: Over the last few weeks the team has been testing intensively. What have been the highs - and the lows?
RK:
For us, it was really important that the car showed good potential straight away. We saw at the first tests that the car is generally performing well. That was positive. We had a few problems with the hydraulics and gearbox and I hope we will have this sorted out when the season starts. Being the last test before Melbourne, the Bahrain test is very important for us to get better reliability. Because we had some tests where we were able to do very little mileage we are a bit behind with the set-up programme and knowing the car and how it reacts, but this should not be a big problem.

Q: In addition to the car’s preparations, the driver also has to be ready. How have you been preparing for the long season ahead?
RK:
Well, certainly it is a different situation for me than last year. Now I know I have to jump into the seat in Melbourne and compete. It is a different and more exciting approach. Meanwhile, I also know everybody in the team much better. We have a good atmosphere. That is good and important. In terms of fitness I think I did a normal programme and I feel well prepared for the season to come.

Q: All indications are that the F1.07 has real potential. What is your personal perception of the car?
RK:
Testing gave us some good impressions, but it can also give you the wrong indication about who is on what pace as well. To really see what everybody’s competitiveness is we have to wait and see the first race.

Q: How does the F1.07 work with your driving style and what is the fundamental difference to last year’s car?
RK:
The big difference is not the car but the tyres. The Bridgestone tyre construction is quite different to what we had last year. You have to adapt your driving style. But I feel this is already behind us now. I drive more smoothly with less steering angle and it is okay. Some drivers have to change their style more and some less. The car itself is going in a good direction in terms of downforce and efficiency, and we are still working to improve it and to get a better pace.

Q: The team’s goal is to close the gap to the frontrunners and to eventually finish in fourth place in the standings. What do you personally hope to achieve?
RK:
For my first full season as a regular F1 racing driver I hope we will be able to fight for points in most of the Grands Prix and have consistent speed.

Q: What do you expect from the first three flyaway races? What have the tests in Bahrain told you about the car under hot conditions?
RK:
After some tests in bad weather luckily it was warm in Bahrain and we did a complete race simulation with both cars which worked fine. It is a good step forward. We are getting better in terms of reliability. Hot conditions should not be a big problem for the performance of the car. It responds well. We have to watch the set-up and take care not to overstress the tyres.

Q: Much is expected from you in 2007. Are you feeling the pressure?
RK:
No, I don’t feel pressure at all. I simply think I always try to give my maximum in every race in order to get the best possible results.