Q and A with Robert Kubica Robert Kubica has great memories of the Gilles Villeneuve circuit, but not all are good. One year he had a very heavy shunt whilst driving for the BMW Sauber team that saw him sit out the next round, however he came back to win the event in 2008.
Now racing for Renault, Robert took part in the Thursday afternoon press conference where he spoke about the track, what it is like to win here and how he thinks he will fare here this year....
Your thoughts on coming back to this circuit, to Canada.
It is a good track as all drivers say. Very enjoyable to drive, challenging. It has a bit different characteristics to what we are used to racing this year, so we will have to see how our car will suit this track. A long straight line, so downforce level will be reduced. Heavy braking and low speed corners, so traction and braking stability I think is the key point of this track and of course top speed.
Robert, you won here two years ago and you were saying you love the circuit as well. What is it about the circuit that you particularly like?
It has a bit different characteristic as I have mentioned before than other tracks. It’s kind of a mixture between Monaco and Monza with very low speed corners but a very long straight line, so you have to reduce your downforce level but on the other hand you have to have good mechanical grip. A lot of heavy braking which I always liked and I always perform well. I think a mixture of my car and the characteristics of the track which normally suit my driving should be good. It will be the first time we will run lower downforce level wings, so we will have to see how our car will be compared to the others.
If I am not mistaken you like the lack of run-off here. Why is that?
I don’t know. I like it when the walls are close and when there is very small margin for a mistake which is always more challenging and it gives you, at least for myself, more fun to drive. It has always been like this in F3 when I was racing in Macao or in other street circuits. It has been like this for Monaco with the F1 car. The only real track which I don’t enjoy so much as a street circuit is Singapore. I don’t know for what reason. But it looks like when I come to street circuits or with the low grip level tracks I am performing well.
Can I ask you a two-part question. One, what guidelines does your team give you for racing your teammate? Two, let’s say you are racing your team-mate, you are behind and you get a good run on him down the straight, he leaves you room on the inside, not a lot but just enough, what do you do? If you put yourself in Sebastian’s (Vettel) place would you have gone for that gap?
I mean we don’t have any rules, so of course as the guys say you try to balance the risk you will have to take to overtake whoever it is, your team-mate or anyone else and you always try, especially if you are already side-by-side or in the front to not hit the other guy as it doesn’t pay off. You are already in front, so what does it matter if you take half-a-meter wider line or narrow. It is really depending on the situation and whatever it is and whoever you are overtaking you always try to balance the risk to overtake him.
Coming back to the situation where you have to fight your teammate, do you feel more comfortable to be in a defending position or in the attacking position, compared to a situation where you have to fight a driver from a different team?
I think the bigger difference is which car you have in front of you and which car behind. If you have behind you a car equipped with KERS like last year, it was difficult to defend, it was much easier to overtake. On the other hand this year we have the F-duct but some teams are really taking a big advantage on the straight, so of course those cars have easier opportunities to overtake and if you have to defend them, it’s much more difficult. It’s rather more car dependent, I would say, than anything else.
Which do you prefer, a circuit like Istanbul Park with big run-off areas, or the same circuit with the run-off areas of Suzuka? Maybe it’s more exciting.
I don’t think it’s as easy as that. I would say I’m a big fan of street circuits but I’m also a big fan of safety because I have gone through a big crash here in Canada, so you know there has to be a balance. Thanks to the FIA and the teams, Formula One has become much safer and I would say that thanks to this big effort I’m still here. If I had crashed ten years ago with such a big impact as I had three years ago, I probably wouldn’t be here. It’s not so easy. I enjoy driving close to the walls and I think we all agree that it’s much more challenging but you know if you lose the car you go off and it’s good to see that there’s no barrier and that you’re not risking anything. I don’t think it’s easy to answer, and it’s not so easy to balance it. With the design of the tracks, I think the FIA is trying to balance those things.