by Russell Atkins

Robert Kubica stunned the Formula One fraternity when he made his debut in the top flight in Hungary last year, qualifying inside the top ten on his maiden appearance in the BMW-Sauber and achieving a podium in only his third grand prix.

As Poland's first-ever Formula One star, Kubica has attracted a huge national following, but says he is keeping his expectations firmly in check for 2007. Here the 22-year-old looks back over his fledgling career at the pinnacle of world motorsport, and ahead to what he foresees during the forthcoming campaign.

Q:
Robert, you seemed to enjoy a dream debut in Formula One last year. How was it from your perspective?

Robert Kubica:
I think it can always be better. There have been many races in the past that I have won and not been happy, and other times when I finished maybe eighth but was really happy with my driving. You know if you have driven well or not, but sometimes because of the car or package you simply cannot do any more. Looking just at the results of course Monza was the best, but I also showed good pace in the wet conditions in China. Unfortunately in Japan I couldn't show it a bit more because of the conditions during the race, but I think overall we showed good potential, especially on low downforce tracks.

Q:
Back at the start of 2006 did you ever dare think you might be standing up there on the podium in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza alongside Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen?

RK:
No. I wasn't even expecting to race. I thought I would do my season as a test-driver and then we would see for the next year. Of course I was really happy, especially as it was in Monza. Until there is a Polish Grand Prix on the calendar - which I think will take a few years or maybe never happen - Monza will always be something special for me. I spent many years in Italy, I've lived just 5km away from the track and the Monza atmosphere is very special. For sure I was very happy to be there on the podium, both for myself and for the team.

Q:
You replaced a former world champion last year in the shape of Jacques Villeneuve. Obviously those were fairly big boots to fill - how much pressure did you feel?

RK:
I didn't feel any pressure. Whenever I jump into the car I always try to do my best. I only found out I would be driving the Tuesday before the race in Hungary, and by that time it was too late to do anything more. I just had to go to the Hungaroring and do my best.

Q:
Did you feel well-prepared having spent so much time testing the car beforehand?

RK:
Yes, of course. I had already done a lot of kilometres in testing, but if you have a good car you can be quick straight away and you don't need so much mileage. In December 2005 I had a very good opportunity to test Renault's world championship-winning car at Barcelona, and after 30 laps I was setting really good times, so I know what it's like to drive a really good car.

Q:
You have now spent the whole winter working and preparing with the BMW-Sauber team. How much of an advantage will that be as you head into your first proper season in the top flight?

RK:
The testing in December was important because we had the new tyres - the ones we will use this year. Of course producing the new car starts much earlier than that, but it's always better to have information late than never. It was very important to see the direction we have to go in. I hope the new car will help my driving style, because honestly I was quite worried after the first test on the new tyres.

Q:
Your team-mate Nick Heidfeld has eight years' experience of racing in Formula One now. How much will that help you in your debut season do you think?

RK:
It's very important to have an experienced team-mate and it's very good to have him here. I would love to have as much experience as he does, but maybe I will stay long enough in Formula One to gain that much too. We will see.

Q:
Ahead of your first full campaign in the category, how excited are you and what are your aims for the year? More podiums perhaps?

RK:
I hope personally for consistent driving and good pace all year. If the car is competitive I think I cannot ask for any more than fighting for points at each race. Of course if we can fight for more than that it will be better, but we have to be prepared for the fact the season will no be easy. Nobody is sleeping in Formula One, so everything will depend on the new car.

Comments

Loading Comments...