It’s not every day that a driver can point to contact with the wall being down to an improvement in grip – but that’s what Robert Kubica alluded to after dropping out of qualifying in Australia at the Q1 stage.
The Pole will start Sunday’s race in Melbourne from 20th and last after his final attempt to better his time in the opening segment of qualifying saw him clip the barrier and pick up a puncture. It was Kubica’s second brush with the wall of the day after the Williams driver had sideswiped the pit entry during FP3.
FP3: Kubica hits the pit-entry wall
But while Kubica accepted that had been a misjudgement, he said his qualifying contact was down to suddenly having more confidence in the FW42.
“In quali something strange happened, well not strange, something positive, but we need to understand the reason,” said Kubica, whose Williams team have struggled at the rear of the field all weekend.
“I was struggling with grip and then suddenly when I left the garage in Q1 for my third run I felt much better grip and I could actually drive the car for the first time today.
“We are probably not getting on with the tyres, but straight away I felt much better grip. It’s a shame because I made a mistake on the exit of Turn 10, clipping the wall. But that was my first lap where I could drive the car.
“We had nothing to lose and I felt more grip. Actually I was nearly one second (ahead) to my lap time before at the exit of Turn 9. It’s not even a corner Turn 10, but probably exiting Turn 9 I had a bit more grip and it pushed me a bit wider into 10. It’s a shame but that’s how it is.”
Kubica said the onus is now on Williams to understand why the FW34 came alive in the final moments.
“We have to go through the data because there is a lot of difference, probably coming from something that we don’t give enough value to. It’s really affecting the performance of the car and the feeling of the car.”
Sunday’s race will be Kubica’s first for 3,045 days, the Pole’s last outing having come at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, just months before the horrific rallying accident that kept him out of F1 for so long.
Robert Kubica: Positives despite early qualifying exit