Exclusive Kubica Q&A: Winning in Monaco could be hard 15 May 2010
Paddock experts had hinted Renaults Robert Kubica could spring a surprise in Monaco, and during qualifying Kubica did just that, taking a well-deserved second place on the Monte Carlo grid. Although he just missed out on pole position, its clear hes really enjoying driving his R30 around the Principalitys streets, and hes now focused on converting his Saturday pace into a result on Sunday
Q: Robert, youll start the race from the front row. How does it feel?
Robert Kubica: Oh, today was a very positive day for us - not only for me, and not only because of the result but because of the performance. It was great for all the people working in this team. They can be very proud of what theyve achieved. Of course we have to keep on pushing because Monaco might be a good track for us - and that is exactly what we saw today - but we have to stay realistic. Some months ago there were rumours about the future of this team and now to see that car on the front row is really, really great.
Q: You just mentioned the rumours surrounding the team. Some even suggested your decision to drive for Renault was the first wrong move of your career. Is it satisfying to prove them wrong?
RK: Believe me, you cannot predict the performance of a team, but you can somehow know the team, understand their mentality and the way they work. I was pretty confident that Id get what I want, but of course I couldnt be confident about the results. In the end you always look at the whole package and one of these factors is good atmosphere. Now it is the time for performance. And believe me, we are pushing very hard.
Q: Why is everything working so well in Monaco?
RK: Well, yes, the package seems to be working well here. I must say that the car is extremely easy to drive, and that of course helps on a street circuit where barriers and walls are very close. You have to have confidence and believe in the car. This helps me to find the limit and to extract the maximum from the car. In the past Ive always performed very well on street circuits, but it has also happened in the past that I had to drive a very slow car here. In 2008 I finished second here in Monaco, while in 2009 I was starting on the second to last row. That shows that the package is very important and I have to say that I feel very happy to drive this car here.
Q: In Q3 you long seemed set for pole, before Red Bulls Mark Webber snatched it away. Disappointed?
RK: No, actually the gap is pretty big - something around three tenths - and that is pretty big for Monaco. We would have been surprised if the Red Bulls were not performing well here, as theyve always done well at street circuits. But of course if you are crossing the start/finish line after every lap and see P1 on your pit wall then your spirits rise. But then you also know that the last two minutes of Q3 are crucial and I have to admit that Mark (Webber) did a fantastic job.
Q: There was a fear that traffic in Q1 could pull a few surprises. How easy was it to complete a fast lap?
RK: It was actually quite easy. Those of us in the faster cars knew that we only had to do one quick lap without pushing too much. I myself did a couple of laps, doing reasonable lap times without pushing too much, just to get a feeling for the track evolution. I went out again on used tyres just to get my pace, to get to my limit. For me it was paramount to get into Q3 without any risk and that it what I achieved. And in Q3 I pushed. Somehow you have a two way qualifying. Drive safely to make it into Q3 and then you have to attack. I think in this respect we did a good job.
Q: Were you surprised about Fernando Alonsos mistake in final practice?
RK: It just shows that when you are driving on a street circuit, any mistake can cost you a lot. That is why I think street circuits are very demanding and very challenging to drive. Unfortunately for him the car was damaged quite a lot and they didnt manage to get it ready again for qualifying. Driving a Formula One car might look easy from the outside, but probably here in Monaco everybody gets a different opinion. You are passing the barriers within a centimetre at a speed of 250 km/h. Every mistake means damage as here you dont have run-off areas like at other tracks.
Q: How physically and mentally demanding is Monaco?
RK: Physically the demand is not that big. It is a track with low speed corners, so there is not a lot of energy impacting on the body. But mentally it is very demanding to keep so concentrated because the margin for mistakes is very small and small mistakes can cost you a lot. And that makes it mentally very demanding. If you finish the Monaco race your brain always feels like youve done a double race distance!
Q: What would a win here mean to you?
RK: To be honest I dont want to talk about winning the race. What I can say is that we will focus on the start, hopefully have a good race pace and pit at the right moment. I think pace-wise we cannot win. We are not up to winning races so we have to see how things develop. Here you have to find your right moment.
Q: Is this a one-off, or could you be so far up the grid at forthcoming races too?
RK: I think we have to stay realistic. On normal, permanent race tracks we are not up to the pace, but we are hoping to improve for the next few races to close the gap. I believe there will be tracks coming where we will perform well - maybe Canada will be the one - but we have to wait and see.