31 January 2011
Q&A - Robert Kubica, Renault
Lotus Renault driver Robert Kubica prepares for the 2011 season
Robert, the new season is just over a month away. How excited are you about the challenge that awaits you?
After a long winter break you always feel ready to jump back in the car and I'm really looking forward to this season. As well as my car having new colours, there are some big changes to the regulations, such as the removal of double diffusers, the introduction of adjustable rear wings and new Pirelli tyres. So there are a lot of new things to get used to before the first race, but we will do our best to be as ready as we can for the start of the season.
This is your second season with this team. Does that make it easier to extract the maximum from yourself and the car?
Obviously when you join a team everything is new and you have to get to know the people and how they operate. So it's good that we don't have to worry about that this year because I know what to expect. That will make it easier to concentrate on extracting the maximum from the car and trying to improve performance.
How different do you think the sport will be in 2011 as a result of all the rule changes?
I think it will be quite a bit different, but I wouldn't say it will be more challenging because taking an F1 car to the limit is always a challenge. The drivers will definitely be busier with KERS and the adjustable rear wing, but it probably won't be any more difficult than last year when we had to operate the f-duct. In fact, it will be good to have both hands back on the steering wheel for a change! We will certainly have to concentrate hard during the first few days of testing to understand the new systems, but I'm sure we will soon get used to them and everything will become automatic.
Is the adjustable rear wing something that excites you as a driver?
I think it's clear it will create the opportunity for more overtaking, which is good for Formula 1 and the show, but we need to be careful that it does not give too much advantage to the car behind. If we see overtaking on every lap of the race because the wing is giving too much advantage, then I don't think this will be exciting. The other thing we have to think about is the gear ratios because it will be a big challenge to find the ideal settings, especially for sixth and seventh gears. Even if you find a good setting for qualifying, when you can use the wing as much as you want, you also need to find a good compromise for the race, when its use is restricted.
How difficult will it be to get through the workload during winter testing to be ready for the first race?
It's never easy because the number of days we have for testing is limited, but I think there is just enough time to be ready for Bahrain. It all depends on how well things go in the early tests and you have to hope there are no big surprises that cost you time on track. Also, with so many changes this year, the task facing us is bigger than in previous years and understanding KERS, the rear wing and the new tyres will need a lot of laps. In fact, learning about the tyres will be the most time-consuming of all because you need to run each compound in different conditions and with different fuel loads, and there is so much to discover. I have my fingers crossed for a good, smooth start to testing so that we can begin performance work as soon as possible.
What are your hopes and expectations for the year ahead?
My aim, as always, is to deliver a good and consistent performance across the year. That is the goal for any driver. At the moment it's difficult to know just how competitive our package will be, but the engineers have decided to go for an innovative design, which is good. Also, we had a strong season last year and we hope to move forward again this year and be closer to the front. That means we will have to race against teams like Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, and we know this will not be easy, but we will be working hard to make sure we can be part of that fight.
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