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Fighting talk - Exclusive Q&A with Renault's Robert Kubica 02 Feb 2010

Robert Kubica (POL) Renault and Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Renault (Left). Renault R30 Launch, Valencia, Spain, Sunday 31 January 2010. Robert Kubica (POL) Renault R30 with device attached to suspension. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday 2 February 2010. Robert Kubica (POL) Renault R30. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday 2 February 2010. Robert Kubica (POL) Renault R30. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday 2 February 2010. Robert Kubica (POL) Renault R30. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday 2 February 2010.

Finishing Monday’s opening test at Valencia as the field’s slowest runner was almost certainly not how Robert Kubica had envisaged starting his Renault F1 career. However, with teams running such varying fuel loads, Kubica believes that a car’s true pace will be hard to distinguish during the four pre-season sessions. And the Polish driver is optimistic that he and the French squad are already working well together and pushing the R30 forward…

Q: Robert, just three years ago Renault were dominant, but over the last few years they’ve dropped down the field. Having invested so much time with BMW Sauber, do you need this hassle again?
Robert Kubica:
Well, it is my job and I hope we will get Renault back, if not to the top, then at least higher than they have been during the last two to three years. I think it is a big challenge, but if we manage it, I think I will be very happy to be part of it. Probably that would make me more proud. For a driver it is always important to go fast and have a competitive car, but it is also important to work well with the team - to have a unified group where everybody pushes in the same direction. And if I can help the team with some of my past experience - as a driver and from what we did in terms of development - to produce a car that is fast, it would be a very satisfying situation.

Q: Not so long ago you were setting your sights on the championship. Have you postponed your title dreams a bit?
RK:
Of course I am hoping to fight for the championship, but realistically speaking it is probably not the right moment yet. But then, who knows what will happen in one and a half months? Last season demonstrated how quickly the pecking order can change. But it’s true we have to stay realistic. First of all we have to make sure that we do our job properly and as best we can. Then we will see where we end up. From that point we can move forward. The season has 19 races and everything can happen. But clearly we are not targeting the championship yet; we are hoping to improve the car and get back proper pace and performance.

Q: There are some who say that without you the team wouldn’t exist any more, and it was you signing the contract that was the ticket to Renault’s survival. Does that make you feel like the powerhouse behind the outfit?
RK:
Well, I don’t know to be honest. I don’t think that just because I am here the team has survived. I have been working with the team in the workshop and from what I have experienced I am quite happy with my decision to join. I had the right sort of feelings straight away, so I am very happy we are all working together. From the difficulties Renault faced in the past, I think the most important thing is that we learn to work together as a group and start pushing very hard. I am sure we will do it and I feel that the team thinks the same as well. Sooner or later we hope to get back to the top again. One thing I must confess is that this winter break was kind of crazy. Of course I have to say that I don’t know the team enough yet to make a thorough judgement. So I would say that February will be a key month, which will show if we can start the season properly. So let’s focus on February! I hope we will use these four test sessions to our advantage and prepare as well as we can.

Q: You’ve found a home at Hinwil and Munich, and now at Enstone and Viry. What differences have you noticed?
RK:
On this topic we could talk for hours! Of course there is a different way of working, but I have to say that both teams have very positive aspects. Both teams are very professional. But for sure there are big differences in some areas of how they work. BMW as a team was very precise, very organized. I don’t say that Renault isn’t - it’s just different. At the moment it is very interesting for me to see different ways to approach working. Maybe a balance between the two would be the answer.

Q: Renault were very much built around former team principal Flavio Briatore. Now the team has a Formula One debutant at the helm. What do you make of that?
RK:
To be honest I don’t have enough experience to judge it, as I have not worked with Flavio and have not been working with Eric (Boullier) for long. My feeling is it is a completely different situation. The most important thing for me is that most of the people who worked with Renault in the days they were winning are still here. And these are the people I will spend most of my time with.

Q: Nothing matters as long as the car delivers. Does it?
RK:
It was a quite smooth roll out. Definitely our priority today was to put mileage on the car and find out that all of its components are working properly. In the end it was a good day, everything worked pretty well. Actually driving the car is always very different to sitting in it in the factory. Of course we will have a few things to adapt and find the right compromise. The concept of the car is very different from what I have been used to in the past, and we plan to work on different set-ups to understand how they influence the performance of the car.

Q: Are you satisfied you have been teamed up with rookie Vitaly Petrov, even though it might mean you have to carry out most of the development work?
RK:
I hope not! Of course I am happy to develop the car and help the engineers with my feedback and my impressions, but I remember very well the time when I joined BMW Sauber in 2006 and I was rookie. If Vitaly gets the right pace straight away and most importantly understands the car and what a good feedback is like, then he can help us. And I hope he does. It is a big difference from the time I started, when there were many test sessions with two cars running. That was pretty easy. Now the rookies only have February and then we start racing. I am quite convinced that he will do the job.

Q: When you were on track were there any cars you thought could challenge for the title?
RK:
To be honest I didn’t follow any car. And I think it is always difficult to judge cars from testing. It’s true that last year the pace of the Brawns was quite obvious, but this year you will get bigger gaps and bigger variations because of the fuel loads, as there is much more room to play with. At these tests we will see at gaps of seconds so there is no way to predict anything. The most important thing is to be ready when it counts - during qualifying in Bahrain.