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In for the long haul - exclusive Robert Kubica Q&A 08 Jul 2010

Robert Kubica (POL) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 9 May 2010 Robert Kubica (POL) Renault R30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia Spain, Saturday, 26 June 2010 Robert Kubica (POL) Renault walks the circuit.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 8 July 2010 Robert Kubica (POL) Renault R30. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 3 April 2010 Robert Kubica (POL) Renault with Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Preparations, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Robert Kubica remains the insider’s tip for ‘champion of the future’. Currently sixth in the standings, he’s outperformed the likes of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa this season. Yes, rivals’ misfortune has helped him achieve that position, but he and Renault were there when others failed. Their cooperation has proved very fruitful - fruitful enough to persuade both to prolong it until at least the end of 2012…

Q: Robert, you’ve committed to Renault until 2012. That implies a pretty high level of confidence in the team. Can you name the cornerstones that led to this decision?
Robert Kubica:
When I signed with Renault before this season I was looking for a good atmosphere and a good spirit - and of course an experienced team. Performance is still very important, in fact the most important factor, but nowadays it is pretty hard to tell about any future success. At the moment all I can say is that we work very well together and the result so far is that everything that was planned has been achieved. I am not speaking about results but about development and about developing the team and bringing it forward. As I just said before, it is difficult to predict future performance but I feel good at Renault and so it was an easy decision to stay with the team.

Q: True, Renault have made amazing progress this season - from a team that looked like disintegrating at the end of last year to one that is challenging the frontrunners and taking you to P6 in the standings. But is this enough for you?
RK:
Of course you would like to have a winning car and be able to fight for victories and the title. I am level headed enough to know that right now that is not realistic for us, but we will go on pushing and I hope that one day we will be capable of fighting for wins. Formula One is changing very fast and who is hot and who is not is something that can change with every season, as we’ve seen pretty drastically this year. It is even hard to predict who will be the strongest team in the next five races, so how should it be possible to predict next season with regulation changes looming? I am looking forward to continuing working with Renault and don’t forget that we’ve only been working together for a few months.

Q: Is winning the title part of your pre-2012 plan, or does that come later?
RK:
Of course I hope to be fighting for the title with Renault and you can be sure that the team would also love to be fighting for it - and best we start in the next couple of races! Staying realistic is what is needed now - and working very hard to be even more efficient and have everything under control. I am sure that a lot of people are surprised at what we have achieved already and that shows us that we are moving in the right direction. That makes me very confident for the future.

Q: Two podiums and a good chunk of points already this season. What are you expecting from the rest of the year?
RK:
I can’t I look into the future, but except for Bahrain where I touched with
Adrian Sutil I’ve always been in the points. True, it’s always been difficult with podiums, but we are usually always right behind the podium positions and the gap is not really that significant. What is important is that we are consistent and that there are no real good or real bad tracks for us - the car performs well everywhere and I am looking forward to a working F-duct on the car because if the system is working properly it can give us a pretty good leap forward in our aim for podium finishes.

Q: This race marks the season’s midpoint. A glance at the driver standings suggests you may struggle to go higher in 2010 - or is there a ‘golden bullet’ of an upgrade on the way from Enstone for the second half of the year?
RK:
All I can say is that we are moving forward pretty well - that’s the good news. The bad news is that others are moving forward too. The team will bring updates on a frequent basis, but being midseason with a fully finished car, the likelihood of a ‘golden bullet’ is pretty low.

Q: Looking at the standings, there are the two Red Bull drivers, the two McLaren drivers and one Ferrari pilot ahead of you. Who would you say could be the easiest prey for you?
RK:
First of all I am very happy to be where I am. If other teams hadn’t had technical or driver issues it probably would look different. But we’ve used our potential and chances to the maximum and thanks to our consistency I hope that good form will continue. At the moment it is not so much about the position in the championship, but to improve the car and the team and to move in the right direction - and to have a firm eye on the development of next year’s car!

Q: It’s about at this point of the season that teams - and your boss Eric Boullier has indicated Renault could be among them - can reach a crossroads. Do you continue to focus fully on this year’s car, or switch emphasis to next season’s? How would you like to see this handled?
RK:
Well, my favourite way of handling this situation would be to concentrate on both cars, to have more people working on them and to have a bigger budget. I know that such a decision is a tough one and to be honest I don’t have enough information to prefer one over the other - and I haven’t got enough experience to throw in my two pennies’ worth. In the end it will be a team management decision. I just hope that this year’s car will not be abandoned, as with some good updates still coming it doesn’t look too bleak for the R30.

Q: What part of the R30 do you value most - and what would you simply throw into the gutter?
RK:
There are of course positive and negative sides to the car and of course it was much easier to point out the negative ones at the beginning of the year. But I have to say the boys in the factory did a fantastic job to improve our performance and from a driver’s point of view the car is very smooth and easy to drive, which helps a lot as it gives a good feeling on tracks that are bumpy or lacking grip. And I have to agree with what everyone says: that our most powerful tool is the good aerodynamics - the aerodynamic downforce. It is amazing how many improvements there have been.

Q: Your team mate is a rookie, which means that you are the ‘delivery driver’ in terms of constructors’ points for the team - a fact clearly illustrated by yours and Vitaly Petrov’s relative tallies. Would you rather have a bit more support? After all, more points ultimately mean more money and more performance…
RK:
Personally I don’t think of points as money, but on the other hand I could understand if the team would want to have two drivers delivering points. And from a driver’s perspective it is always great if there is someone who is pushing you. Plus with little testing nowadays, when you basically do the testing on Friday mornings, it would help to have an experienced team mate who could test different things and you could then rely on his data and findings. Unfortunately Vitaly is a rookie and many times on the Friday he has to get acquainted to a new track, so sometimes I am lacking someone. The team has made the decision to run the second cockpit with a rookie and I am sure they did it in the best interest of the team - that’s how it is.

Q: Given their form this year, you must feel pretty glad to have departed BMW Sauber, especially as Peter Sauber has suggested that the car would not have been much different, even if BMW had stayed…
RK:
I have to say that Peter Sauber has made a huge effort to be here and I admire and respect him for that. In winter testing their car looked much stronger, but unfortunately they could not keep up this pace in the races. If that would be the car I would drive had BMW not decided to withdraw, who knows? With a much bigger budget, as without doubt BMW would have had, the performance could look very different. For me I can say that I am very happy to be with Renault, even if at the beginning people were quite surprised that I committed to the team so early, with all the problems the team were facing.

Q: Two years ago you were leading the championship at one point in the season. When do you think you are going to be up there again?
RK:
I hope as soon as possible! Maybe next year, maybe it might not happen again. It might be that from this weekend on I will win every single race - who can tell? When I get reminded about leading the championship two years ago I tend to tell them it is not enough to lead at some point in the season - you have to lead at the last chequered flag of the last race. That’s the only thing that counts!