Exclusive Q&A - BMW Saubers Robert Kubica 26 Mar 2008
After almost a year and a half without enjoying any champagne, BMW Saubers Robert Kubica must have been experiencing withdrawal symptoms. But with his second-place finish at Sepang last weekend, Kubicas breakthrough finally came.
And with his dry spell over at last, the Polish driver hopes hell become a regular fixture on the podium. As for his teams wish for a maiden victory in 2008 - according to Kubica, its only a matter of time
Q: Robert, your second Formula One podium was quite a long time coming, so it must have felt twice as nice up there
Robert Kubica: No doubt - especially because 2007 was the first-ever season without a podium of my entire career! But now I feel that the trend has turned back in the right direction.
Q: You seem to be counting down the podium spots - first a third place, and then a second. The top spot must now be on your agenda - and it is obviously on the teams to-do list for this season. From what you have experienced with the car so far, what race do you think could bring that breakthrough?
RK: I think that its a bit of a combination of several factors. We are lurking around the top spot now for the past two races and this gives us even more motivation for working even harder to close the gap. Then its also important to remember that a victory cannot be programmed but must be built.
Q: The race between Nick (Heidfeld) and yourself must be heating up now too, as you both compete to be the driver to give the team their maiden win
RK: Not really for me - my competitors on track are 21 other drivers, regardless of their team appurtenance.
Q: The winter tests gave some mixed signals about the pace of the F1.08. Have you been surprised at how easy it has been to challenge the Ferraris and the McLarens in Melbourne and Sepang?
RK: I wouldnt say easy. We have been more consistent than they have, since Ferrari had a troubled weekend in Australia and McLaren in Malaysia. Its also true that in Melbourne I missed the opportunity to score a few points, so I think that we need a few more races to get a better understanding of anyones real strength.
Q: It is almost frightening how BMW has been able to meet its own targets every season since the takeover of Sauber. Its almost as if Formula One racing has become calculable. Why do you believe this has been possible?
RK: Its mainly because of the very quick reaction time in Hinwil and Munich whenever we faced troubles. But I prefer to keep my feet on the ground, since its still too early to say that we have achieved the targets of this season.
Q: BMW Sauber are second in the standings. Is this a realistic representation of where you are, or is there still a way to go before the team can compete with Ferrari and McLaren on a level playing field?
RK: Well, thats difficult to say, but lets not forget that for winning races we do not only need to fill a gap, we need to be quicker than the others.
Q: In Sepang you benefited from the five-place grid penalties handed down to the two McLaren drivers. Was this relegation crucial to your podium finish?
RK: I had a very late first pit stop and my race pace was very close to the race winner, so I think that eventually my podium finish wouldnt have been affected.
Q: There is a growing discussion about whether to impose a maximum lap time criteria at the end of Q3 to avoid the large speed discrepancies we saw at Sepang. What is your take on that, as it affects race strategy as well as driver safety?
RK: Its of course a crucial issue that must be solved. Lets consider tracks like Monaco where its almost impossible to keep out of the (racing) lines. So I am glad if there will be a change that will improve safety and will create very little difference to the race strategies.
Q: When you were sitting in your car on the grid in Malaysia, Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone bent down to you. What did he say?
RK: Just best wishes for the race and apparently he brought me luck!
Q: The conditions in Bahrain will be very much like those in Melbourne - hot and dry. You only just missed pole in Australia. What are your expectations?
RK: As usual - to achieve the best possible result.