Kubica trying to extract maximum performance from different targeted F1 runs
Robert Kubica completed a solid test programme with Williams on Day 1 of the post-season Abu Dhabi test at Yas Marina in the first hour of the day. The Polish driver had 100 laps to his name in 10 different runs, with a best time of 1m41.296s.
He also undertook high fuel long run, the first of which was being overlooked by Williams chief Paddy Lowe from the trackside in the final corner. Lowe was positive about Kubica's run until that moment, as the grand prix driver eventually had four 12-lap stints to end his running.
Speaking to the host of media present for the final including myself, Kubica said he was happy to run the 2017 car, especially a different car to the Renault he drove, which also ticked off the box to portray that he can drive multiple cars, despite the limitations.
However, the Polish driver was slightly put off by the fact that all the test runs he has had was mostly done to achieve a specific target for the team, rather than for himself, which made it all the more difficult to make a personal assessment.
"Honestly, it’s a difficult situation," said Kubica, when asked if he feels at the highest level now. "I don’t think I would expect to have more confidence as someone who is driving a new car for the first time. For sure if you give me a 2010 car or even the 2012 car that I’ve seen with Renault, it would be much easier for me.
"But I think it’s a question of just time and giving me a chance like today to do the laps, to have time to analyze and put things in place and see if I can extract a bit more. This will come. Although I have done six tests now, all the tests were different.
"All the tests had different goals and different targets and in the end apart from the first two tests with Renault - where it was evaluation and I could just drive because there was no testing - in Hungary I had a job with the team, here I am doing a program for Pirelli, so there’s not really time where I can use it for myself.
"So I have to use the maximum out of it, pick up information and then when I will have time to have some consistent driving it will be easier. If I’m coming in every five or ten laps and changing tires it’s like starting from zero.
"My brain has to learn, I have to pick up differences between the compounds, how the car is reacting, try to put in place what was working for different compounds and maybe for this one it doesn’t work. So there are a lot of question marks.
"For sure it would be easier to have 80 percent of experience and 20 percent new but for me it’s a bit the other way around. I think it’s just experience of four or five seasons in F1 in the past and although I haven’t been racing a lot lately but I’ve driven different cars which opens the mind a bit, so I think experience is playing an important role in a good way for myself. "
Kubica also dismissed wild rumours which stated he is driving the car one-handed. Having seen the condition of his arm, one can imagine how difficult it is for him. However, the Polish driver was certain that he is driving with both hands, although, he admitted to having limitations, but he felt that's a normal human situation.
"There is someone saying I’m driving one-handed, I’m not driving one-handed! For sure I think it’s impossible to drive a Formula One car with one hand. But for sure I have some limitations so in some way my body used some compensations, which is not wrong, we are human beings and our brains are used to help our bodies overcome disabilities. This is normal daily life," he said.
"This is something I think I’m on top of. Psychically I think I have done a great work, good work in the last six months. It hasn’t been easy, it was not like I have been lying in my bed, actually probably I’m in psychically my best shape, by far a better shape than I was when I was racing in 2010. So motivation is there and the body is reacting in a good way.
"Of course I’m starting nearly from scratch because Formula One has changed so much in the last seven years that it’s like nearly starting from zero, but my experience which I gained in the years I was racing in Formula One helped me to get on top of the learning process quicker than it used to be in the past. But still, it’s like being the first year in school."
The Polish driver didn't want to compare his Renault run to the Williams, since the two tests were undertaken in different situations. In terms of achieving what he wanted to after the Renault test, also wasn't a fair comparison according to him, since he was driving different cars to get that consistency.
However, Kubica said that he feels a lot more confidence and that there is a huge difference from what he was 12 months ago to what he is now - in a good way. He admitted that he will be disappointed if nothing comes out of the effort he has put in.
"I didn’t particularly like to say disappointed, I say it because in the end I see big improvements - and as I said the confidence is an important factor. Everything started from how I want to come back.
"I don’t want to come back just to come back because even if I get a chance and I don’t feel confident I can do it, I will not come back because there is no point. I’m very demanding of myself, although I understand my situation and try to adapt, but the high standards I put into what I do haven’t changed.
"The worst thing I would like to do is to convince myself I can do it and then have trouble. So there are question marks that have to be answered for the team, but also for myself. As I say, I see big improvements day by day so I can expect things to get better.
"That’s why I say I would be disappointed because in the end I put in a lot of effort and I see there is a good chance I am able to do it," he said, adding to me that 'there's always a Plan B', when asked if at all there is any other plans if F1 doesn't work out.
Day 2 will have Kubica driving the car in the afternoon with Russian Sergey Sirotkin having a run in the morning. Along with the Polish and the Russian, there's Pascal Wehrlein, Daniil Kvyat and Paul di Resta also in the frame for the seat alongside Lance Stroll.
While Kubica is doing the job at the track, the Polish driver has 2016 F1 champion Nico Rosberg doing the managerial and contractual role for him. "It’s very nice to have Nico joining us because in the end Alessandro was following me from Renault days, from the beginning, so it was a very powerful upgrade I would say.
"It’s a bit strange because I have known Nico for almost 20 years and we have always been racing against each other. We met in karting and then our roads to get to Formula One were a bit different, but in the end we both arrived here.
"I’m really happy for him, he won last year and he deserved it with the effort he put in. He knows exactly -- as he has been a race driver until last year -- he knows what it’s like to be a race driver and we speak often the same language, even though we are quite different characters.
"It’s good because I think we complete each other and it’s always good and he gives me some advice. So it’s very nice," he said.