Robert Kubica has pointed to the choice of tyres for this weekend's German Grand Prix
as potentially having the biggest potential to cause an upset in the chase for points.
Admitting that Renault
may struggle to hang on to the coat-tails of the leaders once again, the Pole has suggested that tyre strategy could play a bigger role in determining the outcome of the race, as Bridgestone has opted for the excitement-inducing option of bringing compounds three stages apart on its durability chart. After the unpredictability of running its supersoft and medium compounds in Canada, the Japanese company will take the supersoft and hard options to Hockenheim, and Kubica is sure that that will pose some difficult questions of the teams.
"At first sight, the supersoft may struggle to do even one lap in qualifying, while the hard compound could go on forever," Kubica suggested, "The weather and the track conditions will have a big influence on how they perform but, from experience, it will be tricky to make the supersoft tyre work properly, while the hard tyre should be okay. The other factor is that we may see a big balance shift between compounds, and that may make the weekend quite tricky and interesting from the tyre point of view."
Although his run of eight straight points finishes came to an end with differential failure at Silverstone, Kubica was satisfied with the R30's performance - which allowed him to dice for third before its demise - but admits that he may struggle to be quite so competitive this weekend.
"I managed to qualify sixth, which I think was quite surprising looking at our performance up to that point," he noted, "We were struggling with the general grip of the car and our feeling on the performance side was that we were less competitive than we had been at the previous race. Everything was looking grey until the final part of qualifying, but it was even more surprising to be third in the first stint, after a good start and a good first lap.
"However, our pace wasn't great in the race and, even before the driveshaft problem, the car didn't feel like it usually does. I think much of it was down to circuit characteristics because our least competitive circuits this year have been Barcelona and Silverstone, both of which have a lot of high-speed corners."
Although the new-look Hockenheim isn't as high-speed as its predecessor, the development of rival teams may count against Renault, according to its lead driver, who has 83 points from ten races so far this season.
"It's a more normal track, with a more normal mix of corners," he reflected, "There are two very high-speed corners, at turn one and turn twelve, but the rest are low and medium-speed. The track surface is very smooth, so you have to get the absolute maximum out of the car's mechanical grip, and there is also one very long straight, where you have to make sure the car is competitive on top speed.
"All the cars we are racing already have an F-duct system and the blown floor, and this makes our life harder because we may have to reduce downforce to be competitive on top speed, which could cost us in the corners.
"We will have to evaluate the best compromise for us on Friday and, as usual, I will try to do my best and to extract the maximum from the car, but I think it could be quite a tough weekend. We need to make sure that our pace is more competitive than at the last race but, if it's what we call a tough weekend for us is, like in Silverstone, when we still could have finished P4 or P5, then I'll take it straight away."