Q&A with Robert Kubica
Q: Robert, Silverstone is one of the classic circuits in the F1 season. How much fun is it for the drivers?
Robert Kubica: It’s an exciting circuit, a very challenging track, especially the first six or seven corners which are just amazing with current F1 cars. Most of them are nearly flat out, or perhaps even flat – it depends on the wind direction – and as soon as you exit one, you’re into the next one straight away: it’s just amazing how much speed you can carry through them. Of course, there is the new section this year, as well, which I’ve seen on the internet and on TV when MotoGP raced there: it looks quite bumpy, and different to the previous version of the circuit, but I think overall that Silverstone is a place where all the drivers are happy to drive, because it really shows 100 per cent of the potential of an F1 car in the high-speed corners.
Q: How do you think the R30 will perform at Silverstone?
RK: It’s very difficult to judge. Silverstone is normally quite a tricky place for the set-up and for finding a good balance, because you have a big difference between the low-speed and high speed corners, and there are not really any medium-speed corners in between. Downforce is a key point and with the changes we made to the car last race, it will be interesting to see if they bring us an advantage in the high-speed stuff. It will be a good test on Friday to see and feel the differences with the new package.
Q: In terms of overall competitiveness, where do you think Renault stands at the moment?
RK: A lot of it depends on the circuit characteristics and if you get everything right or not. We were very close to Ferrari in qualifying in Valencia, even though we were not 100 per cent happy about how it went – but I think most people were struggling a bit in qualifying there. In the first stint of the race, I was behind Felipe [Massa] and we had a slightly slower pace than him, but things might change. Mercedes struggled in Valencia, too, and we saw some cars having big ups and downs in performance during the weekend, so it’s very, very difficult to judge. Silverstone has a completely different character to Valencia or even Canada, and the last time we raced at a similar circuit was in Istanbul. Since then, people have made big updates to their cars, including us, so we really will have to wait and see.
Q: Silverstone marks the halfway point in the season, and you’re sixth in the championship. Has the first half of the year exceeded your expectations?
RK: I think there are two ways to look at it. Of course, as a driver you’re always hoping for a winning car but, in reality, myself and the team went to the first race hoping to get into the top ten in qualifying and we felt this was our potential, after doing a good job to improve the car during winter testing. Until now, we’ve qualified in the top ten at every race, and apart from Bahrain, my worst finish has been seventh. All in all, we can be happy with the job we’ve done. Of course, we had more room for improvement in the beginning, but we managed to close the gap to the top teams, and the guys in the factory have worked really hard to keep up the pace of improvements. Now, the last few tenths to the front will be very difficult to find, but I think we can be happy and really proud of what we have achieved so far after starting quite far away. I don’t think anybody was expecting us to achieve these kinds of results.