Kubica: I have a plan in my head

Twenty four hours ago Robert Kubica sat down with three journalists working for Eleven Sports, F1 official broadcaster in Poland, and gave one of the longest, most open and positive interviews that I have ever seen. My English is stil far from perfection but I decided to make full transcript and translation of this interview for all Kubica’s fans who are cheering him around the world.

Kubica's smile was a big part of that interview (for. Twitter / @ElevenSportsPL)

It took me long hours (an interview is 40 minutes long) and I’m still not sure how people working for Eleven Sports will react to this, but below you can find what he had to say about the test in Valencia, current state of racing and his future. I assure you it will be an amazing journey.

Robert about his test in Valencia:

That was really emotional moment and I felt like a little boy, like starting from zero. From the other hand I’m older and it’s getting harder to get some sleep than it was 15 years ago. Emotions were on high level and sensations stayed with me to this point and will stay a little bit longer.

Last years were full of different type of “events”, also on a sporting side. My rally debut was quite emotional but it was related to new experience and learnig process. To test F1 car after six years was a big thing but I have to say I thought will be worse – it will be harder to keep emotions under control. Being back in F1 car cockpit was like “going back home”, like going back to my daily job. The test it’s not a race or race weekend but I was trying to do my own test and to do my job as good as I only can.

It was one of the best moments that day – first laps behind the steering wheel – to feel everything is under control like there was no break [in my career]. It was one of the biggest shocks [for me] behind the wheel and positive moment. After six years without racing [in F1] and with my limitations there were a lot of question marks. I’m the type of person that always want to have everything under control and during the test I was able to get to that point quite quickly. I felt very confident behind the wheel. It wasn’t the same cockpit that I left [in 2011] but many thing there were still similar to what I wanted to use, designed or changed during my last season and it helped. It was a nice “welcome”. I felt like at home. Everything looked familiar and I get familiar feelings. I don’t want to go to much into the details but that cockpit was like made just for me. Many things stayed like it was [in 2011].

To be hones I was working a lot to be prepared and my physical form was never as good as is now – even in “golden times” of my F1 career. My hard work helped a lot. I was ready almost for everything – many things were beyond my control until that day. It turned out it wasn’t so scary and it was not as far as it might seem before the test. It’s quite close and beeing honest I can say that F1 car was the most conducive to drive from all of the cars that I checked after my the accident, with my limitations. It’s a nice surprise.

It’s not the message. When I have a target I will do everything to reach it. F1 car test was my target for last 16 months. I did it. As I said there were a lot of question marks. Now I have almost all the answers – positive answers. I don’t know what future will bring. I’m still doing my “thing” – training hard. Today my bathroom scale showed that my weight is record low. It wasn’t that low even in “golden times” in 2008 when I was quite slim. I’m in good shape and that is the most important thing. There is also a sacrifice, an enthusiasm for work so we will see what the future will bring.

There is a lot of work to do but not as much as it might seem before the tests. From physical form point of view it better than I could expect in the best scenarios. If we are talking about my feelings in the car, in last years I learned a lot about human brain and how limitless it is, and first three laps in Valencia looked like I was out of the car only for a month. I felt “that” behind the wheel, I saw that in my driving and it was one of the best moments, one of the best information I got in last years.

You need to work every day. If you think you reached the target it’s a moment when you are going down. I will continue my work and it all depands on my sporting targets and where I will go. Fans’ imagination and expections – people from motorsport and F1 – just woke up after the tests. I sleep very calmly because I know I can drive F1 car and I’m able do do it fast and consistent and I don’t feel and big problems coming from my limitations. What will be in the future? Where I will appear? what will be a main target for me? I don’t know but I’m still working, just like in last 12 months, in full swing and I will try to do it step by step. The most important thing is to use what I was able to build in last months and calmly wait for another target, that I will be able to reach in the future.

I thik lap times are not so much important. I could use thousands word to describe the test but I think the best summary for a whole test came from the guy who worked with me in 2010 – he was close to me in the team – and was in Valencia that day. He said one sentence describing everything: “The most important thing is you are still F1 driver.” It’s not reality, I’m not on the grid, but to hear that kind of words from the guy who saw many great drivers – also was with me in 2010 – means a lot. It’s a great feeling. From the other side we should stay calm and don’t try to think what will happend. Time will tell. People didn’t give me a lot of chance to be back in F1 car and I did it – I did it in style in my opinion. It’s not about lap times. It was just a matter of time – five or fifty laps – to get there. I was about to check am I able to drive a car at the same level as before and I was able. I don’t want to say how many laps I needed to be find the pace. That afternoon conditions were difficult. Track temperature was far above 60C so tyres degradation was high. It was one of my first tests with Pirelli tyres – it was new for me – and long stints, with the car full of fuel wasn’t easy but I was consistent. To learn all that little bits were important.

In Valencia Kubica tested Lotus E20. It’s quite old car and there is a lot of questions how he will handle with a hybrid car. Here is how he reacted to this kind of question:

To be honest I don’t think [I will have any problems with new cars]. New cars are faster in the corners but it’s not a big difference compared to 2012 cars. New cars are faster than last year’s cars or cars from the penultimate season when downforce was reduced. Lap times were low but time was gained mostly on the straights and the corners were slow. Now old standards are back. Speeds in the corners are similar to 2008 so after 10 years situation has changed. Taking the corner 5 or 10 km/h faster it’s not a problem and I’m quite calm about that. If I will get a chance to test “new generation” car I don’t think it will be problem form me. Of course I will have to learn many things, to learn new parts but it’s just a matter of time. But we should stay calm and don’t put me into the car. If I wil get a chance I will do the job as good as I can and I wil try to learn as much as I can but it’s beyond my control.

I knew it [the test] will generate a lot of attention. It’s nice how people are talking about me. Looks like I’m not as bad as some people and some journalists are describing me. Some people still appreciate the work I did in the past when I was racing in F1. There are not many people left in Sauber from my era but in Renault there is still a lot of people that I worked with and I think if they didn’t have good memories this test will not happend. I think it wasn’t a coincidence. In last two years I wasn’t involved in any serious racing program and many people didn’t understand that. I can’t say that my plan was confirmed in every detail. I had a difficult moments when I was almost sure I will be a part of different racing programs but it didn’t materialize. If I have to be honest now I do not regret it. One day in F1 car and a chance to feel again what I was loving and I still love, what is my passion, gave me much more and I would never change it for anything else. So you shouldn’t give up and you should do your thing and believe.

Kubica about current state of racing in F1, DRS and refueling:

F1 has changed it’s image not only from cars point of view but also in racing aspect. I wasn’t on the track for last six years and people are saying that was only 2012 car. It’s a fact but the other fact is that cars wasn’t so slow. It’s 2017 now and I think F1 is on the good path. It wasn’t so exclusive from cars point of view. It’s not about how many motorhomes we have and how hospitality units looks in the paddock but to see the smile on drivers’ faces and to give them a chance to race on the limit to fight for every inch. In last seasons it was quite different. I know that from the simulators that sometimes races were won andthe cars were 2 seconds slower than they could. It was all about tyre degradation and to keep them in a good shape for many laps. It wasn’t a proper fight for thousands of seconds but calculation. There is sill a little bit of that but a huge step forward were made and I think it’s a good direction.

An environment is now much better and many drivers like it much more then in last seasons. The most important thing is drivers again are in fight for every thousand of the second and they are working to make a car a bit faster. This is why we one week one driver has more problem and a week later someone else is struggling. We are again in that place when you need to work to optimize your package. Of course tyres are still playing a big role. Almost all the drivers are struggling to put the tyres in optimal window. Tyres are harder than last years and for the drivers like me and for some of my friends in the paddock is positive thing.

I wasn’t a fan of DRS and I didn’t have a chance to race with it. My last test in Valencia in 2011 was a debut of DRS. I will not even call it an overtaking it just bypassing the slower car. I last season there were a lot of cat and mouse games and even if the driver had a chance to make a move a corner before [DRS zone] during the braking it was better to wait, not to take a risk to destroy the tyres. DRS gives you a chance to minimize the risk or even decrease it to zero and use the higher speed. DRS is still there, zones changed a little bit, new cars are wider, it’s not a problem on most tracks, but as we saw in Monaco it made drivers’ life a little bit complicated. It’s not easy to feel the car’s width and drivers have to get used to it. As I said tyres let them to do a bit more and it’s the best what F1 made this year.

I think [refueling] won’t appear again. My last season with refueling was 2009 and I think it would change racing – put it closer to sprint races with more different strategies. It would make racing more interesting but on the other hand more complicated on the operational side. For some reason refueling was banned and I think F1 won’t go that path again but as I said I hope I’m wrong.

In the past Kubica said many times it’s to hard for him to follow the series and to visit the paddock. Looks like many things have changed:

Do I have time [to watch the races]? I have it more than I need. I have that luck that I’m a part of F1 paddock and I know following F1 from outside it’s not so easy. It looks quite easy from outside but we are missing a lot of details to get the whole picture. It’s complicated sport and not easy to follow. It’s hard to get right conclusion watching from the outside. People think it’s all so simple. I’m following races because it’s a queen of motorsport and the races are really interesting. Many of my friends are still racing there so I watch every race but not going into details or holding a thumbs up for someone.

Robert about new tracks, how long F1 calendar should be and about current season:

The track in Baku I saw only on TV. It’s an interesting street circuit so the margin for error is quite small. I like this kind of tracks. I’m a fan of it so I would like to race there. From fans’ perspective you want even more races but from the driver’s point of view we are on the limit. It’s not even about the drivers but about the teams. Cost are huge. In the past there were two teams inside the team – one for the testing. There were more mechanics and now there is are some limits. Big teams – not officially – still have more people and kind of two teams. We have to remember that F1 is more than only top three teams. We have small teams working realy hard to be on the grid in Australia. We need to see the whole picture and think about everyone.

It’s an interesting season and we had a signs of this during the tests in Barcelona. Test are not always a good reference point but first part of the season showed that we have a close racing. In my opinion main roles will be played by Hamilton and Vettel but by “number 2” drivers – Raikkonen and Bottas. In the second part of the season they will play an important role in this fight.

Kubica was and still is close friend to Fernando Alonso. According to Robert it’s only a matter of time when Spanish driver will take a new path. How good Verstappen is and was Alonso able to win Indy 500?

Talking about Fernando’s hardcore season it’s not about “if” but “when”. I will make it straight: I do not envy him. As I said before I looks different from the outside. In every team sooner or later there are some problems, situations that no one in the team want to be a part of. Conflicts are inevitable. It’s not good situation for the drivers, for McLaren and for Honda and even for F1. I hope one day they will be able overcome this situation – hope dies last – I wish them all the best. Fernando is the best or one of the best drivers and he showed it even during this season but to be competitive you also need a good package and he’s missing it for several seasons.

I would like to race with every driver (huge smile) so I don’t have any preferences. It’s hard to say who’s similar driver to me because every driver has his own unique style. Verstappen is phenomenal. It’s an evenement even from historical point of view. Last year he wasn’t irresponsible, he was in the position where you can take some risk. He doesn’t have a car to fight for the tittle so he’s trying to take every opportunity as much as he can. He can a lot. His win in Barcelona – I’m not emotional guy – but when I put myself in his cockpit and looked at this from F1 perspective I think it’s a great piece of history. When I’m thinking how he made it and about the time he had to do this and what road he went and how mature driver he is I have a goosebumps. He is a revelation of last years.

I think Fernando had only one target going to Indianapolis and he was quite close to reach it. For me it wasn’t surprise he will be fighting for the win in this race. Don’t get me wrong, drivers racing in America… We are about one of the best drivers in F1 and motorsport history and that’s reality. It’ all about the skills and we have to be realists. It’s not easy to go into “unknown” but we are talking about one of the most talented drivers and I’m not talking about last 10 or 15 years but about sport history. It’s quite simple and that’s reality.

What future will bring?

I have a plan in my head. I can write many different scenarios but many things happend in my life during last six years and to be honest many things changed also inside of me. I will be working to reach my targets – targets that I’m able to reach. I wil try to make it happend. It’s to early to talk about the future, what will happend. I don’t know what will happend. I know only one thing and I’m in full control of this. I will be preparing to reach the highest goals. Three months ago my target was to test F1 car and I think I was prepared really good. What is my new target? It would sound stupid if I would say a have no new targets. I got huge boost after Valencia and I my sefl confidence is much higher now. I know how my limitations are influencing my driving and that’s positive aspect. What future will bring? It’s beyond me.

Asked about McLaren’s seat:

This days you can not be picky. It’s a joke. I don’t know if it will be F1 or something else. I work on several projects, I’m part of some projects that will see the light in the future so we will see.

There is a lot of different views how Kubica’s career will develop but I’m more than sure that next season he will be on the grid. According to L’Equipe Robert will appear again in Renault car during the Goodwood Festival of speed later this month. Now things will go very fast…