Exclusive Kubica Q&A - KERS could be more critical at Sepang 02 Apr 2009
Sometimes a championship is decided at the first race. Its something BMW Saubers Robert Kubcia dare not think about after his Melbourne clash with Sebastian Vettel - no point crying over spilt milk and all that. Instead hes totally focused on seizing his chances in this weekends Malaysian Grand Prix, even if he knows he may not have the fastest car on the grid
Q: Robert, Melbourne saw many dramas but yours was probably the most heart wrenching: having a podium - or even a race win - within grasp and then it all disappearing within three laps of the chequered flag
Robert Kubica: I am not thinking any more of what happened in Melbourne. My focus is on this race. It never helps to look back with regret.
Q: What could those missed points mean for your championship hopes?
RK: Yes, we easily lost second place or even the race win and how Melbourne ended was not what I had anticipated as I had a very strong weekend. I really do hope that the lost points in Melbourne do not affect my chances for the championship - in the end that is racing, accidents happen. Sunday evening in Melbourne was not one of my best moments, but I compensated for that with a good poker session and gained some of my humour back at the poker table.
Q: Your team mate Nick Heidfeld was running with KERS, you without it. Were you surprised about the performance gap? You took P4 on the grid and Nick didnt even make Q3...
RK: Well, it was a very good qualifying for myself and not such a good one for Nick, but it is too early to give judgments on the performance issues of all cars, especially ours. We have to wait a few more races and then we will see.
Q: Based on the teams Melbourne experience, will it be a permanent situation throughout the season that Nick will drive with KERS and you without it?
RK: It will be decided on a race-by-race basis. I think that KERS is giving some advantage for race situations like overtaking and defending a position, and definitely for the start. My guess is that on this track here in Malaysia we will see bigger differences between the cars that have KERS on board to those who dont, as the distance from the start (line) to the first corner is much greater, so the gain for the KERS cars will be bigger. However, you could already see in Melbourne that KERS does make a difference - if you take the situation between Fernando (Alonso) and Timo (Glock), Fernando was much slower but he was boosting on every straight and Timo didnt have that opportunity (to pass).
Q: Speaking of opportunities, could KERS have helped you to overtake Sebastian Vettel more easily in Melbourne, hence preventing that crash?
RK: It would have made no difference. I was already in front in the braking area, and pushing the (KERS) button would not have helped as we were already in the corner where our race ended.
Q: Melbourne was obviously not a KERS track. What about Sepang here in Kuala Lumpur?
RK: Yes, I think the characteristics of this track are more in KERS favour than Albert Park. Especially at the start, as there is a very long distance to the first corner, but also in the second long straight the advantage will clearly be with the KERS cars.
Q: Were you surprised to do so well in Melbourne, despite the unhappy ending, as you had not seemed overly optimistic at the final tests?
RK: Well, I would say we were performing okay, but not better than I was expecting as there were still cars quicker than us, especially the Red Bulls and the Brawns, and even the Williams and Toyotas were very strong. We were in front of Ferrari and McLaren, but Melbourne is always a very different race so probably here we will get a better picture of who is doing how well.
Q: Brawns performance has been startling: a last-minute engine deal, only seven test days and a one-two in qualifying and the race in Melbourne. It made other teams with their immense winter test programmes look pretty silly. What do you make of this?
RK: Well, it shows only that they have done a fantastic job - getting it so right at the very last moment and then to be able to beat everybody. They must have had a dramatic winter but have never given up - and then they came to Barcelona with the quickest car. When I saw them my guess immediately was that we will have a hard start to the season beating them.
Q: And how would you judge your chances here in Sepang?
RK: This track has a totally different character than Melbourne, but I hope to come close to the Melbourne performance and would be happy to finish in the top six.