No regrets, insists Kubica


The tight, twisty streets of Baku were surely the toughest test yet for Robert Kubica, who returned to the F1 grid this year after an absence of eight seasons following his horrific rallying crash in early 2011, just days after he had set the pace for Renault in pre-season testing.

While most doubted his ability to return to the sport and resume his 'unfinished business', we all watched his determined progress with growing admiration.

Finally, following a few false starts, he realised his dream, having been confirmed as George Russell's teammate at Williams, it was the F1 fairy-tale.

Sadly however, his return to the sport has coincided with a major slump in Williams fortunes, the multi-championship winners appearing to stumble from one crisis to another.

Consequently, rather than mixing it with the midfield, Kubica, like his talented teammate, has been forced to trundle around at the back, several seconds of the pace and resembling the likes of Minardi rather than the garagistes who have won more drivers' titles than McLaren and seven constructors' crowns.

One would fully understand if Kubica were to throw in the towel, admitting that while he has proved he still has the talent and ability he has no desire to be an also-ran, poodling around at the back of the field merely making up the numbers.

Not so, insists the Pole.

"No, why should I?" he replies when asked by the official F1 site if he has any regrets.

"This might sound strange," he continues, "but I'm enjoying being back. It's probably because I was away for a long time.

"I know we are struggling, and we are slow, and the races are difficult," he adds, "but I enjoy it.

"I know where I have come from, what I have done to be here," he continues. "It wasn't easy. Sometimes, from difficult situations you can still find the positive, although for most people it's not an easy thing to do. I have to make sure that I improve as a driver. I have learned a lot. Now I have to try to build up better performance in myself and I have to improve. It's something I'm looking forward to."

With the team missing most of the first week of pre-season testing, Kubica, a stickler for preparation, headed out on track for the opening practice session in Melbourne with just 268 miles under his belt, less than half of what the like of Hamilton had completed.

"Our realistic target was to have a smooth start to the season," he says. "It was important to have positive momentum so that we could focus on improving the car and try to put it into the best performance window. Unfortunately, the situation at testing was a bit different.

"So it was very disappointing," he admits. "The first test in Barcelona was the most important test of my life, as I'm coming back after a long time. It was my only chance to focus on myself, to get knowledge about the car and to prepare for my return. It put the team and myself in a complicated situation and I have had to use the first Grands Prix to recover and to understand the things I was supposed to understand in Barcelona."

With technical boss Paddy Lowe on leave of absence and team co-founder Patrick Head brought in to help resolve the team's various issues, it's very much a question of 'all hands on deck', and Kubica is among the first to roll his sleeves up.

"It's good to be involved," he says. "This is the other reason I am here. I'm happy to help, happy to get involved if I'm asked. But it's also the right thing to let everyone get on with their own jobs and step back when needs be. In the end, you have very little influence.

"No one in the team is happy about the situation, and we would all like to see Williams further up the grid. It would be good to have less to worry about, that would make me feel far more comfortable and would allow me to focus more on performance. That's really what we need."

"I'm not frustrated, honestly," he insists. "All of us are trying to do our best with what we have but when you see such a big off-set in car behaviour and you know it's limiting you a lot as a driver, it's difficult.

"On the other hand, it's a good thing that this has happened now, and that we can try to understand what is going on at this stage of the season. We need to find a solution and hopefully it will take less time than we think."

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Published: 04/05/2019
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