Q&A with Renault's Kubica and Petrov 23 Mar 2010
Renaults Robert Kubica reviews his first race for the French squad and evaluates the R30s potential, whilst team mate Vitaly Petrov assesses his debut performance at the Bahrain Grand Prix and describes how Formula One racing is fast becoming his home country Russias favourite sport
Q: Robert, what more have you learned about where the team stands after the race in Bahrain?
RK: We had a very intense winter working hard to understand and improve the car, so it was nice to finally be able to compare where we stand. I still want a couple more races to really judge the situation, because Bahrain is a slightly unusual circuit in some aspects, but Im feeling very positive. We didnt achieve our full potential in qualifying or the race, for different reasons, but seventh position was realistic in both cases. It was disappointing not to achieve that, but encouraging to know that we had the possibility of doing it.
Q: You talked about the cars potential - what are your thoughts on the R30 now?
RK: The weekend in Bahrain basically confirmed the feelings I had in Valencia at the first test, in terms of where the car is strong and where we can still improve. The car has a lot of strengths and we are working hard to get even better in what we do well, and improve in the areas where we are less strong. The race this year is not just at the track, but also in the factory to deliver new developments. The team at Enstone has been working 24/7 to produce updates and the first results in Bahrain gave a good step forward in performance.
Q: The racing in Bahrain came in for a lot of criticism. What was it like from the cockpit to race without refuelling?
RK: Especially at the beginning, it felt like the race was happening in slow motion compared to last year because we had so much fuel onboard and the lap times were so much slower. It was interesting to see how the different teams reacted to the challenge: we set a benchmark for the strategy by stopping very early for new tyres, and we saw the other cars that started on the softer tyre all came into the pits two or three laps after us. We now only have three sets of tyres to use in Friday practice, and the running time is quite limited, so you cant develop such a good understanding of the differences between the two compounds. Teams will have to be very reactive to how the tyres are behaving in race conditions, and theyll need to adapt their strategies quickly.
Q: How will the R30 cope with the demands of the Melbourne circuit?
RK: Overall, before the start of the season, I had the feeling that Melbourne would be a better circuit for us than Bahrain. Now that we have seen the other cars running and collected more information about where we stand, I think even more that it will be a good circuit for us. The circuit is very low grip at the start of the weekend, and you need good mechanical grip, braking stability and ride, so I hope we can put in a strong performance and achieve the cars full potential.
Q: Vitaly, how did you evaluate your first weekend in Formula One racing?
VP: Apart from the final result, I was very pleased with the weekend and it was all pretty straightforward. I made one mistake in qualifying, which meant I didnt start as high up the grid as I could have done, but I made up for that at the start by climbing up to P11. The team helped me a lot over the weekend, and we did a good job with the engineers and mechanics to find the right set-up. The car felt fantastic on Sunday and that makes me very positive for the next races.
Q: You seemed to take everything in your stride - is that in your character?
VP: I prefer to take everything calmly. Ive been racing a long time and, although F1 is tougher than any other series, its still about doing the best job you can in the car. I was not worried before the race, but I felt much better after doing my first start, making up places on the opening lap and really fighting with the cars around me. My goal now has to be to get closer and closer to the top ten without making any more mistakes.
Q: What has been the reaction in Russia to your first race?
VP: So far, the support in Russia has been fantastic. Formula One is still something new for my country, so people are learning about it all the time and discovering all the different aspects of the sport. There has been a lot of excitement, and many messages of support, so I have to say a big thank you to all the fans over there. When I get in the car, though, I am focused on the job. Its a great boost to have my people behind me, but it doesnt feel like extra pressure on my shoulders.
Q: How will you approach the challenge of learning a new track in Australia?
VP: The most important thing is to learn the track and understand how it flows. I need to get out there and feel the tarmac, see the kerbs, walk a lap to have the right feeling for what I need to do. Then I will do the best job I can and well see what happens.