Despite his success in 2008, Robert Kubica insists that it is way too early to speculate about a repeat next season, particularly with so many new factors being introduced to Formula One in 2009.
Along with team-mate Nick Heidfeld, the Pole helped BMW Sauber achieve its stated aim of becoming a regular frontrunner, and race winner, in its third full season in the top flight, triumphing at the Canadian Grand Prix and remaining in the title fight until the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji. After a disappointing end to his 2007 campaign, and in spite of reported discontent as he felt his challenge was blunted by the team looking more to 2009, Kubica insists that he was satisfied with the effort.
"Once we had solved the problems from the pre-season testing, we had a very strong first half of the season," he confirmed to Crash.net
, "We could fight with McLaren and Ferrari and we made the best of our opportunities in Bahrain, Malaysia and, especially, in Canada. Obviously, I would have liked to fight for the title until the last race but, overall, I'm very happy with the 2008 season."
Kubica's 'failure' to remain in the hunt for the crown with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa was laid at the feet of BMW Sauber's desire to concentrate on its fourth F1 campaign, but the Pole admits that, with so many technical changes being brought into the top flight next year, he cannot predict whether the team will remain a frontrunner or not.
"It impossible to answer [whether BMW Sauber can keep up with McLaren and Ferrari] right now, because there are still too much uncertainties around next year's regulations," he claimed, "At the moment, everybody is looking for the best way to go with the new cars. There are still a lot of testing opportunities before the first race of the 2009 season, [and] we will only know more about the performance of every team once all the 2009 cars have hit the track."
The interim 2009 cars - of which BMW Sauber has had one of the most complete examples on track so far - have already been branded 'ugly' by many, including Kubica's team-mate Christian Klien, but the Pole's thoughts remain focused on how much different they feel to those which he has raced throughout his F1 career.
"Again, this is very difficult to answer at the moment," he confessed, having had a brief outing in the hybrid machine, "We have lost a lot of aerodynamic grip in fast corners because of the revised regulations around wings and bodywork [but], on the other hand, the new slick tyres give more grip in slow corners. That gives the cars a complete new character. You have to adjust your driving style to this. In addition, it's a new challenge for the driver to set-up a car."
The other new element that teams and drivers will have to get used to - if, indeed, they choose to use it - is the KERS systems that become optional for 2009 as part of F1's ambition to become both more 'green' and more entertaining. Kubica, though, remains sceptical.
"I don't think KERS will change the overall picture - the gaps between the teams won't get any bigger," he reasoned, "And I don't expect more overtaking, especially not under braking. The braking distances of modern F1 cars are just too short to make a big difference.
"So you can see it's way too early to make any serious predictions. We just hope to win and we will do everything we can to celebrate more often in 2009."