Exclusive: Kubica hopeful of return to form in Valencia 20 Aug 2008
From the first half of the season, BMW Saubers Robert Kubica would be hard pressed to single out one highlight. From his first-ever pole position in Bahrain to his stunning maiden victory at the Canadian Grand Prix, Kubicas 2008 season has been chock full with triumphs. Since June, however, results have been on the wane and instead of podiums, the Polish driver has been fighting hard for championship points. But with the possibility of a more level playing field in Valencia, the 23 year-old is staying optimistic
Q: Robert, after the teams recent spell of success, the Budapest race must have been disappointing. BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen said that in some phases of the Hungarian Grand Prix the team's cars were the slowest on track. Can you sum up what happened from a driver's perspective?
Robert Kubica: A few laps after the start the car became very difficult to drive and my feeling was that the pressure of the tyres was too high. In those circumstances, you simply have to slow down since the grip and the traction become very poor.
Q: How did it feel to have your normally reliable car let you down?
RK: Reliability is our biggest strength but it should not become the only strength. For a driver reliability is only a problem when you dont have it, otherwise you dont think about it. Instead, when you are racing with lack of pace, you notice it and the feeling is not good.
Q: Theissen also said that the reason might be hidden somewhere in the equation between car, set-up, tyres, track and track conditions. Where do you believe the issue lies?
RK: Well, my fourth position on the starting grid shows that the car was not so bad for that track and track conditions were similar on Saturday and Sunday. As I said, I would point my finger in the direction of the tyre issue. There were also some technical problems that may have influenced performance, although in a limited way.
Q: After such a race the team could not twiddle their thumbs and escape on a summer break. What feedback did you get regarding the cause of the downturn in pace?
RK: We did not discover in Hungary that our car had lost competitiveness in respect of most of the other teams. I hope that Hungary is the turning point of the season since this situation puts me in the position to fight for points rather than for podiums. Lets see if we can be back to where we are supposed to be in Valencia.
Q: It seemed to come so suddenly. There was no hint in qualifying that finishing eighth would be the maximum you could achieve. When did you realize that things were going wrong?
RK: After the first pit stop, when I realized that the massive lack of grip was still there.
Q: Budapest saw McLaren overtake BMW Sauber in the constructors championship standings. With Ferrari leading, McLaren in second and BMW Sauber in third, do we now have a more realistic pecking order?
RK: Yes, in the last two races we scored only eight points, clearly not enough. This trend brings us back to the 2007 season conditions, which clearly is not the teams goal.
Q: The championship moves now to the unknown Valencia circuit. Every team and driver has a different way to deal with such a situation. How have you prepared?
RK: I watched some footage of the Formula Three race, but mainly my preparation will be in Valencia during the first free practice.
Q: What will you do once you arrive on Thursday?
RK: Ill walk one lap with my race engineer on Thursday and on Friday will do more laps than usual - I think everybody else will too.
Q: How did Robert Kubica spend his summer break?
RK: A lot of bowling and some karting.