R obert Kubica takes his job as a test driver seriously. The 33-year-old Pole is always there. In every test, in almost every race. Regularly in the simulator. Kubica is supposed to help the engineers with the development of the new FW41.
Williams can only partially rely on his regular drivers for feedback on the car. Lance Stroll has 20 Grand Prix experience. Sergey Sirotkin has only known Formula 1 from test drives so far. Operations manager Rob Smedley grins when asked whether vehicle development does not suffer with such young drivers: “We have Robert.” That is why the winner of the Canadian GP of 2008 will also have two half days of testing in Barcelona on Thursday and Friday.
Kubica regards his role as a test driver as the last step back to a regular place in Formula 1. Even if it will be difficult for him to shine with lap times: “I don't drive for myself, but for the team. For me it's not about the fastest lap in the test, but about the maximum information for the team. ”
Kubica fast in the exit test
A comeback after his serious rally accident in February 2011 is still in our sights. He gives everything for that. Since Formula 1 has been an issue for the Pole again, he has starved 15 kilograms so that in combination with the car he does not exceed the minimum weight of 733 kilograms. When exiting the cockpit with the Halo, he remained one of the fastest despite his disability on his right arm. 'Clearly under seven seconds,' confirms the FIA inspector.
As a GP driver on hold, Kubica has plenty of time to think about the sport from which he was torn from seven years ago by a serious arm injury. Because he hadn't been in a Formula 1 car for six years, the returnees noticed the difference between the current generation of vehicles and the cars at the end of the 2000s more clearly than their colleagues who have driven regularly since then.
“The first thing you notice is the weight. The cars are at least 60 kilograms too heavy. In slow corners the car feels sluggish like a bus. It lacks maneuverability when changing direction quickly. That's why you sometimes drive different lines today. '
Kubica remembers the time when he made his debut in the premier class with nostalgia:' The cars weighed 605 kilograms and still had 50 kilograms of ballast on board. The tires had an easier life there too. That's why you couldattack the whole race. It was a series of qualifying rounds. Impossible today. You have to manage everything. The tires, the engine, the consumption. ”
Light cars, better races
Kubica has not yet competed in a race in the hybrid era, but after his many test laps he can do it paint how it is. “The whole race is calculated in advance. You have to drive past this guideline. There are only changes if the tires collapse faster than expected. From the outside it looks like the drivers are all on their own. That's because everyone tries to keep their distance so that the tires don't overheat. ”His suggestion:“ Bring the weight down. Many problems then solve themselves. ”
Another bad habit, according to Kubica, is that the drivers are steered from the pits remotely. “Nobody used to tell me when and where to brake or in which corner to drive faster.” Is that the curse of complex technology? Kubica doesn't believe: “The drivers may have gotten a little lazy today. I don't see any reason why you need instructions from the pits with these cars. A good driver should be able to control everything himself. “