Q & A with Robert Kubica

The Spanish Grand Prix weekend is a crunch event for the BMW Sauber team, with a host of upgrades - although not a double diffuser - arriving in the hope of launching the team back into contention

Q & A with Robert Kubica

The situation is particularly critical for Robert Kubica, who started the year aiming for the title but has so far failed to score a single point. AUTOSPORT heard his thoughts ahead of the revised car's debut in practice tomorrow.

Q. What's your feeling about the car coming into this weekend?

Robert Kubica: We have quite a significant upgrade for this weekend. Finally something which should give us quite a lot of advantage on the downforce side, so more grip. But we have to see how big the step will be compared to the others. I hope, personally, that it will be bigger than the others' improvement or we will stay in the same position, but we'll see.

All the information and simulation data is giving quite big numbers - at least half a second (of improvement). But as I said, we have to see how it feels because we are quite far away from the top so we have to make double the number of steps of the others. It will be interesting to see the situation tomorrow and Saturday.

Q. Half a second will not be enough at the moment though will it?

RK: For sure we need at least two steps of improvement if the others stay at the same level, because the gap lately was nearly one second, or even more. So we need at least one second if the others stay at the same level, but we assume the others will improve. Also the teams who were behind at the start of the season, like Ferrari and McLaren, are already in front. We have to move forward, keep working. I think we have to have a bit more time as well, to see and analyse which direction we are going in, and try to deliver more steps in the future.

Q. If things do not improve within the next two or three races, are your title hopes over for 2009?

RK: One thing is to win a race, which we saw might have happened - even when we were quite far back at the start of the season. We've seen that happen in the past for some teams. Another thing is to win the championship. Last year after seven races we were leading the drivers' championship, and we were coming to Barcelona as constructors' championship leader. This year is completely opposite so for sure for the championship it will be difficult. It's already difficult now.

First of all I think we have to concentrate on more improvements, and then adapting our targets to our situation. In the end, the target is always the same from a drivers' point of view: to extract the maximum from the car and try to do the best job possible. Then you have to adapt to the situation.

Q. You could be the only team here without a double diffuser this weekend. Will that penalise you?

RK: I don't know about the others. You say we're the only ones. There is nothing to add. We don't have a double diffuser ready. So I think the target is to bring it for the Istanbul race, so in two races' times. Then we will be ready to extract 100 per cent of the potential of the double diffuser.

Q. When did you realise that 2009 was going to be a difficult season?

RK: I think going into the first race we knew that at least three teams were quicker than us, and that was more or less the situation. At the beginning of the testing we saw Toyota was very strong, and Williams, and other teams as well. There was not Brawn, but we saw that they were very strong. But in the past it happened that some teams were running lower fuel (in testing), but it looks like everybody was running quite heavy through all the winter.

It was not only us, like one year before when we were running heavier than everyone else so once we went to Australia we were nearer the front than everyone was expecting. Last winter it looks like everyone took a similar approach. We were hoping that the situation might repeat from last year. It was clear before going to Australia that Brawn was very strong and there were some other very competitive teams. So it was not a surprise that we struggled.

Q. Would the car have been more competitive if it had not been designed around KERS?

RK: I don't know. I don't have enough data, information and knowledge to answer this question. I think KERS from the system side is clearly an advantage. If you can fit the KERS without compromising the car or the aerodynamics, it's clearly an advantage. Every team evaluates the weight of the KERS, the advantages and disadvantages, and they'll go in one direction. That's what happened with us, and with Brawn and the other teams. I don't have enough information to know if Brawn or Red Bull can fit KERS as well. I don't have enough knowledge or data to say which route would be the best.

Q. You're in the strange position of having no points, but you could have won in Australia. Does that incident frustrate you even more now?

RK: Not really. I think only now can someone really realise what I did in Australia. I think people who were there looking at my performance in the race didn't have a clear picture of the potential of the car or where we were. I think most people thought the car was able to win races. In Australia we had a competitive car, but not one to win races. We were lucky because of the safety car and we were in better shape with the tyre strategy because I had already run the soft tyres, so there were many circumstances which were to my advantage during the race.

Also I think I had very good performance through the weekend in Australia. Normally after the race I don't really think about what happened, but I was disappointed because I felt I lost many points, and important points because points might be difficult to get in the future. But this is racing. It was the first race of the season and that's it. Now we are here in Barcelona and we have to think about what's coming next, not what happened two months ago.

Q. Last year you lost momentum in the second half of the year, but hoped for better in 2009 - and now you're struggling.

RK: For sure the situation would be much easier if we had much more improvement last year and the beginning of this year. But the situation has been different. The reality is that last year we were struggling to deliver aerodynamic parts that worked on the car. This year the team decided to go in a direction that clearly didn't work out as a development in the first races. But this is out of my control. We have to cope with this, and we have to try and improve it.

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