Exclusive interview - BMW Saubers Robert Kubica 21 May 2008
Compared to the rest of the circuits on the Formula One calendar, Monaco is a very different kind of track - and one which has produced some of the most unpredictable results ever. This weekend's Monte Carlo race will be Robert Kubicas second encounter with the famous street circuit in a Formula One car and he is being widely touted as a hot candidates for a podium finish. Despite this weight of expectation, Kubica is taking all the pressure in his stride...
Q: Robert, you have just had the honour of receiving this years Lorenzo Bandini trophy. How was the 11-kilometre ride from Faenza to Brisighella? And how did it feel to receive an award that bears such an iconic name?
Robert Kubica: It has been really a great experience since there was a fantastic crowd in a very nice environment. The award is for me a source of pride since its given by people who have a strong background in motor racing and you can really feel their passion for Formula One. The ride from Faenza to Brisighella was funny, although a bit tricky, since driving on a normal road with an F1 car is quite an unusual situation. I think that all the spectators enjoyed the show.
Q: Before heading to Italy, you tested for two days at Paul Ricard with the track in its Monaco-style configuration. Both days you finished behind a McLaren and a Ferrari, clocking the third-fastest time. Is this an indication of what we can expect this weekend?
RK: I am happy about the work done at the Paul Ricard test and I am reasonably optimistic for the Monaco weekend. But I also need to be realistic, and I know that I will face quite a challenge in order to fight with our direct competitors. Ill need to push hard, even more than I usually do
Q: Many have tipped BMW Sauber as a possible winner this weekend. As only you tested with the Monaco configuration - Nick Heidfeld did the one day with the Montreal layout - will it be down to you?
RK: No, I really dont think that the BMW Sauber F1 Team plan test sessions with different goals for each driver, but when we test with just one car there is a need to split the programme for optimizing the preparation.
Q: The weather forecast suggests Monaco could see a wet race. How would you rate the F1.08 in high-downforce configuration with wet tyres?
RK: If wet, we will see for the first time in this season how it goes for everybody. Its currently very difficult to predict if our car will have a better level of performance in wet conditions, although I think it shouldnt be bad.
Q: It will be your second Formula One race in Monaco. How do you like the track and the atmosphere?
RK: Its a city track and of course I like it very much, although last year I couldnt reach the result I expected due to a pit-stop strategy that in the end didnt pay off. The atmosphere is one of the best of all the calendar especially because you see all spectators so close to the race track and it looks like there is not even the smallest spot empty, it is so packed.
Q: So far this year you have outperformed your team mate. Does the car support your driving style more than his?
RK: I dont think that its a question of car. Id rather consider the fact that I now have one more year of experience and that I am working very well with my new race engineer, Tony Cuquerella.
Q: Ferrari are without a doubt the pacesetters - but after them? Where do you see BMW Sauber? And what potential is there for more improvement?
RK: Well, we need to work in all areas because, in the end, it is the package that makes the difference. I know that the team is working hard in order to find the improvements that we need and I am sure that we still have space for a step forward.
Q: Your great performance and the fact that your BMW Sauber contract terminates this season - albeit with an option for another year - has prompted speculation over your future. Ferrari are the only team who are clearly stronger at the moment - have they put any feelers out?
RK: I have only one comment on this - I am currently a BMW Sauber F1 Team driver and my duty is to fight on track and try to beat everyone else.