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Exclusive Kubica Q&A: consistency key to '09 title challenge 13 Nov 2008

Robert Kubica (POL), BMW Sauber, BMW Sauber F1.08, Chinese Grand Prix 2008, Shanghai, Thursday, 16 October 2008. © Martin Trenkler / Reporter Images Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.08. Formula One Testing, Barcelona, Spain, Day Two, Friday 13 June 2008. World ©  Hartley/Sutton Robert Kubica (POL), BMW Sauber, BMW Sauber F1.08, Chinese Grand Prix 2008, Shanghai, Sunday, 19 October 2008. © Martin Trenkler / Reporter Images Robert Kubica (POL), BMW Sauber, BMW Sauber F1.08, Singapore Grand Prix 2008, Singapore, Sunday 28 September 2008. © Martin Trenkler / Reporter Images Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1 celebrates his first GP win on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 8 June 2008

For a while in 2008 it seemed Robert Kubica might achieve the impossible. Midway through the season he had won a race and was vying for the championship with Hamilton, Massa and Raikkonen. Then somehow the challenge faded. Kubica cannot yet explain why, but he is certain that BMW Sauber will find the answers and that they can push McLaren and Ferrari even harder in 2009. In the meantime, he’s content to keep busy over the winter break developing his own kart chassis…

Q: Robert, the last time we spoke was before qualifying in China and you were still in the frame for the title. Ultimately in Brazil, however, you slipped to fourth behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. How do you explain that?
Robert Kubica:
Without going into the details, I think that several circumstances worked against me, especially in the last two races. I do not have a clear picture yet of what happened, but clearly something went wrong.

Q: Knowing your determination to succeed, the last two races in Shanghai and Sao Paolo must have been hard to swallow…
RK:
I am fine, since I think that from my side I have not done anything that has contributed to this disappointing end to the season. Also, we should not forget that in Singapore I lost a lot of points purely due to bad luck…

Q: BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen always said that the team would be ready to fight for the championship in 2009. Did it seem like a dream when you found yourself in that position a year early?
RK:
I don’t think so. My job is driving to the best of my ability while avoiding mistakes. The rest is not really in my hands. Of course I need a competitive car and good strategies in order to win races, which simply means a lot of good people behind me. In the early part of this season we had excellent reliability and strong pace, which brought me to the unexpected position of leading after seven races. In 2009 we will need to replicate that period, but over the entire season. It won’t be easy, since we will face a lot of new factors and in our case also the KERS issue, which is a concern for all the ‘heavy’ drivers like me.

Q: Did you get carried away by the possibility of making the impossible happen this season?
RK:
If I considered it impossible, I’d rather change my job…

Q: In Brazil and China you lacked the pace to make it through to Q2 in qualifying. Where did the speed go - and why was Nick Heidfeld not equally affected?
RK:
To be frank, I have no clue. In both races I was quite happy with my car in the first free practice and quite the opposite in all the following sessions. The technical debriefings could not really give an answer to this strange situation.

Q: Before those problems, you had a discussion with Mario in Monza about losing performance. Did you sit down again and discuss the Shanghai/Sao Paolo situation?
RK:
I do not comment on our internal conversations.

Q: Reflecting on the season as a whole, what is your assessment?
RK:
I have been on the podium seven times and have scored points 14 times. Altogether it was a good season. And of course I am happy for my contribution as a driver to the first win of the BMW Sauber team.

Q: How will 2008’s late-season setbacks affect the team’s 2009 schedule? Is the ’08 car history and the F1.09 a completely new beast, or do you fear some of the F1.08’s shortcomings could be carried over to next season?
RK:
I do not have sufficient information to give you an answer.

Q: We have Lewis Hamilton as drivers’ champion and Ferrari as constructors’ champions. Do you believe this was a representative result? And who was your favourite?
RK:
I think Ferrari had a very good ‘team players’ attitude and deserved the constructors’ title and Lewis certainly deserved his drivers’ championship. Congratulations to both of them.

Q: After a long season everybody is taking a break. Where are you headed?
RK:
There’ll be no holidays for me since I am quite busy with my project for a new go-kart chassis that I want to introduce for competition hopefully next season.