Q&A with Renaults Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov 08 Mar 2010
Renaults line-up for 2010 features the experienced Pole Robert Kubica and Russian newcomer Vitaly Petrov. Ahead of this weekends season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Kubica sums up winter testing and his hopes for the year ahead, while Petrov reveals his emotions concerning his imminent F1 debut
Q: Robert, after four weeks of testing, do you feel ready to go racing?
Robert Kubica: I feel as ready as I can be considering that winter testing has been so limited. I've spent a lot of time with the team and we already have a strong working relationship, which means we can make the most of the time at the track. There has been a lot for me to learn and there are still questions to answer, but we got some good information from the tests and I tried to extract the maximum from every lap.
Q: How do you think the R30 compares with the competition?
RK: It's difficult to judge performance, but we're heading in the right direction. We also haven't run with all our new updates yet and there is another aero upgrade for Bahrain, which we hope will match the wind tunnel predictions and improve performance. Overall, it seems that all the top teams are quite close, but some have definitely hidden their full potential during testing and will also have more updates for Bahrain. So far, I think Ferrari and Mercedes look very strong.
Q: What aims do you have in mind for the year ahead?
RK: It will be a long season and our goal must be to develop faster than our competitors. There was a big gap to make up at the end of 2009 so we will have to take two steps forward if we want to catch the top teams. Performance is what we need - it's always the best medicine.
Q: Bahrain has a new layout this year. Do you think it will encourage more overtaking?
RK: I don't think the layout will make overtaking easier. The biggest overtaking opportunities are still there in the old part of the track and the new part is quite twisty with a lot of corners, but no heavy braking zones. So the overtaking will happen in the usual places - into turns one and four.
Q: Set-up wise what's the secret to a good lap?
RK: Bahrain is a circuit that requires good braking stability and traction. There are no real high-speed corners so the set-up work focuses more on the mechanical side.
Q: Vitaly, how excited are you ahead of your first race?
Vitaly Petrov: People are asking me if I feel nervous, but I'm used to racing and I know what I need to do. Of course things are different in F1 and I'm still learning about the car and how to work with the team. But I feel good and I can't wait to go racing in Bahrain.
Q: How tough has it been to get up to speed with Formula One racing?
VP: It hasn't been easy, especially because we had so much wet running during testing. You always want more time to test and more time in the car, but that's how it is. The problem is that I haven't had a lot of time to work on setting up the car in the dry. What I have found is that you need to be really precise with any changes you make to the set-up because even a little change can make a huge difference to the car's behaviour.
Q: What do you think of the circuit in Bahrain? Is it a track you enjoy?
VP: I know the track and raced on the old layout in GP2, but obviously the new section is a new challenge for all the drivers. I don't think about whether I enjoy tracks: all that matters to me is that the car works well and we can find a good balance. Bahrain is all about braking performance and, with the heavy fuel loads, this will be very challenging because it will be easy to lock a wheel and flat-spot your tyres early in the race.
Q: What is your target for your first race?
VP: It hard to say because we still don't know where we stand compared to the other teams and I haven't driven the car with all the new updates. I need to be realistic in Bahrain because it's my first race and it will be a big learning experience. So my first aim is to build my confidence through the weekend, to finish the race and try to be as close to my teammate as possible.