Robert Kubica, Williams, Albert Park, 2019

Kubica: Damaged car felt so bad I nearly started laughing

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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Robert Kubica said his damaged car handled so badly during the Australian Grand Prix he “nearly started laughing”.

The Williams driver suffered a litany of misfortunes in his first Formula 1 race for more than eight years. He qualified last on the grid in the team’s uncompetitive FW42.

“As expected it was not the easiest one,” said Kubica. His race began with a panic when he realised he couldn’t see the starting lights.

“It was my first standing start after eight years and four months,” said Kubica. “I never did a standing start with the grid since Abu Dhabi 2010. And actually it was quite good.

“But I had a bit of a panic because when I stopped, I couldn’t see the lights. The rear wing of the McLaren was hiding it. So I could see the first block but not the rest. And then I had to move to the left, there was additional lights, it was a bit of a panic moment.”

With the car well over a second off the pace all weekend, Kubica said the team treated the race as “rather more a test for us to get more data” and opted to start him on the hard tyres.

His race started to go wrong at the first corner when he tangled with Pierre Gasly’s Red Bull.

“I had a good launch but then I had a lot of wheelspin,” he said. “Running into turn one I took it very safe, actually I moved a lot to the inside over the kerbs. And once I thought ‘OK, this is over’, I went through the first corner.

“From what I saw in-car Gasly moved quite a lot to the right, I think there was contact with Sainz. I saw it [later] with the video that he moved a lot to the right [and] then he damaged by front wing. But I didn’t realise. A hundred metres later I lost all the wing – I thought I’d lost half of it. Then the wing caused other damage to the car so we had to pit.”

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Robert Kubica, Williams, Albert Park, 2019
First-lap damage wrecked Kuvica’s race
Kubica continued to struggle with his damaged car’s handling after returning to the track.

“The car was not feeling great. Then additionally on lap three of the race I lost one mirror which makes it even more difficult with blue flags. So it was quite difficult.

“Once I was in free air I was told the pace was not bad, actually it was good for the car with the state I was having. I nearly started laughing because from the inside it felt very bad.”

Despite his difficult return to F1 Kubica says he is remaining positive, but will adjust his expectations about how much wheel-to-wheel racing he is likely to do in the near future.

“Overall I am leaving Australia with definitely more experience and reasonably happy. Although I would never think I would say something like this having this pace and finishing so far behind. But that’s the reality.”

“Yesterday I was disappointed a few stuff. Probably I pretended and I focused too much like I would be racing with people.”

Williams are “in a different phase” he admitted. “We have to understand that it’s not easy and we have to use race weekends as a kind of test.”

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2019 F1 season

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 40 comments on “Kubica: Damaged car felt so bad I nearly started laughing”

    1. Oh dear…if Williams have to use the rest of the race weekends as tests…then they could use next season’s testing as races.

      If there is a next season on the Williams agenda. Sure hope they can find some pace some place by summer. Does Adrian holiday/moonlight in Grove occasionally?

      1. I actually think it is a good idea. They obviously know that the car has issues and it appears that they know what those issues are (Which is better than last year…). The fact that they are not able to deliver enough pace to be competitive means that they might as well make the most of the running and actually use it as a test instead. That way they are not wasting track time fighting for non-points related places when they could be learning more about the car. The more they learn in the first few races then better their chances of fixing the problems quicker.

      2. then they could use next season’s testing as races.

        Smart choice; Ferrari doesn’t seem too keen defending their winter champion title ;)
        @jimmi-cynic

    2. we have to use race weekends as a kind of test.

      That pretty much sums it up.

      Disappointment is an understatement.

    3. “The car was not feeling great. Then additionally on lap three of the race I lost one mirror which makes it even more difficult with blue flags. So it was quite difficult.

      “Once I was in free air I was told the pace was not bad, actually it was good for the car with the state I was having. I nearly started laughing because from the inside it felt very bad.”

      I like this guys personality/attitude (I can’t think of the right word!), I really do :)

      1. Kubica is obviously a good egg. Always has been.

      2. I like Kubica but he’s talking too much now about how bad the car is. Williams has sponsors to attract and deals to be made and it helps none if its drivers were to be going on and on about how bad the car is. Just keep your head down and drive and when asked just say the car has issues but everyone is working hard to improve the situation.

        1. He was talking about bad car because of the damage after 1st corner, not bad car generally.

        2. I think quite opposite. Times tell how bad the car is. All Kubica does is to show light at the end of the tunnel although he is much more realistic then young & optimist Russell about the timescales.
          If you look at comments from Williams last year about turning the corner in next few races – what good came of it?

        3. We can all see how poor the car is, Robert is just being honest about the obvious plus the damage he incurred this race.
          —–

          This car has a current Mercedes in the back, & according to the drivers, not too bad to drive (not brilliant, though). So it must be missing loads of ownforce? Did Paddy Lowe put some of the wings on upside down?

      3. @nullapax
        I can almost relate to what he means. There are these situations when you’re stuck with a task that’s making your life hard, and you start doubting yourself because it just doesn’t feel like you’re doing it right. But then, out of the blue, someone tells you you’re actually doing a pretty good job, it’s just the task that’s terrible.
        I guess that’s more or less what was going on inside Kubica’s head. He was having a bad time, but that radio message helped him put things into perspective and saved his day.

        1. Kind of yes, with a bit of black humour ;)

          Like “well the mirror has fallen off and the car is damaged and hard to drive but the pits are saying it’s going good so I’d better just keep going” :)

          1. Honestly, I think the fact that we get some really memorable quotes out from Kubica does more to keep everyone hoping Williams will turn this car / season / their existance around, pick up some speed and get some results down the line than anything else we have seen or heard from the team this year @nullapax, @keithcollantine, @erikkennedy. In that sense he has been a really nice addition to the grid already.

            Off course that quote get’s used in headlines, why would one bury that somewhere in an article and choose a title like “kubica: damaged car felt bad to drive but it was still able to finish” or something @rethla, @colinmcrui.

    4. I would like to make correction to this statement “but will adjust his expectations about how much wheel-to-wheel racing he is likely to do in the near future.” this is just interpretation by the author. I’ve seen/read all interview with him after the race in english and polish (I’m a Pole btw). He was talking about adjusting but regarding practice sessions, he was talking about the pit lane wall brushing. He told, he was finding the limit there like in old times. He didn’t suggest like this article is that he need to change something regarding wheel-to-wheel racing. The only wheel-to-wheel racing was at start/1st corner. He said he took the first corner even with big margin, going deep to inside of the corner. He also said that the late winter testing problems, and used parts in that testing made him prepared like in 20% for first race, and those problems will be a hiccup also in next races, which also be probably more like testing not racing.

    5. Hoping he can picked by a Haas or Tora Rosa next season or even Red Bull if Gasley screws up. He’s far too good for Williams.

      1. bit early to say that. I would love you to be right though!

      2. Not trying to be disrespectful, but if he wants to get picked up by other team, at least stop mis-judging his distance with the walls.

        He complained about parts shortage limiting his performance, then crashed into the pit wall on FP3, then in qualifying, and finally in the race (the last one may be debatable since he claimed it he was hit by someone).

        First he should outperform his teammate, then he can talk more about his vast experience.

        It is still early in the season, but the first impression was not too impressive.

        1. The guy has been away from circuit racing (with a few exceptions) for over 8 years. Of course his feeling will be off – that’s why a jeopardised testing programme was especially bad for him. Not just the shakedown + 3 days that Williams missed, but also his last day of the second test where he was driving with a damaged car and therefore didn’t learn much about the car’s characteristics. He didn’t do proper qualifying times (before the car damage I think they were perfectly equal time-wise on the C4 tyre, although of course this could mean nothing) and didn’t even do half a race distance – as far as I know Russell did two.

          In practice/the last qualifying run he was 0.2-0.5 seconds off Russell, which is significant, but considering Russell has been racing this whole time, has been around Mercedes/Force India/Williams the last few years, is F2 champion, knows the tyres very well, I don’t think it’s too bad at all (on the other hand he didn’t know the circuit). Give Kubica until Barcelona at least – if the margin there stays the same in the European season then there’s a case to be made in my opinion. You can’t just jump into Formula 1 / any elite sport with maybe a day’s worth of proper testing and expect to be competitive off the mark.

          1. *until the last qualifying run.

            Also, I’m not by any means suggesting he should be given a seat elsewhere at the moment – just pointing out that we shouldn’t be judging the deficit to Russell just yet, especially in Australia where he was driving a damaged car.

      3. He has to prove himself first.

      1. I think @keithcollantine is getting too much imaginative with those headlines. I understand that there are no double quotes in there but the drivers name followed by the colon makes it look like it was what Kubica really said. However it distorts a lot the actual quote.

        1. @rethla @colinmcrui In what way does the headline not accurately interpret the quote it refers to, namely:

          “The car was not feeling great. Then additionally on lap three of the race I lost one mirror which makes it even more difficult with blue flags. So it was quite difficult.

          “Once I was in free air I was told the pace was not bad, actually it was good for the car with the state I was having. I nearly started laughing because from the inside it felt very bad.”

          1. @keithcollantine
            The headline reads like Kubica is laughing at the disaster of the car like the famous “GP2 engine” quotes.

            What he did laugh about however was the irony of getting praise for putting in deacent laptimes in the midst of what felt like the car breaking down.

          2. Kubica: Damaged car felt so bad I nearly started laughing

            is implying that he actually said these words in this exact order (even if there are not quotes around it as I said), which he did not. And it does feel like he is mocking the damaged car.

    6. Williams, and Claire Williams are continually disappointing. I always hold out for them in hope they will show improvements. But they are slower than the last year for the second year. Claire is losing people on a regular basis.

      Personally i do not see any hope. I do hope however they can turn it around, but i cant see how Claire can do it. They need another team principal.

      1. ..as far as I was aware Sir Frank Williams is the team principle..

    7. I as a kubica fan was disappointed by kubica in Melbourne, but I don’t think he is lacking performance, it is just what it is. He hit the wall in qualifying, got a better start than Russell, took turn 1 clean, then gasly suddenly drove over his front wing… The damaged front wing then damaged his floor and diffuser, and for good measure one of his mirrors fell off later on too.. That is how bad Williams is, how does your mirror just suddenly fall off??? His replaced front wing wasn’t to Melbourne spec because the team is still lacking parts… After that kubica was setting times around the same as Russell, but lost more time than usual being lapped, because with one mirror missing he had to give more space. It is like a bad nightmare!! Guy comes back to the sport after 8 years and has this nightmare weekend! He thanked his team over the radio at the end as it was an achievement to get both cars home. Not a fairytale return for a fan like me, but we keep cheering, I’m sure he will do better next time. If he has a clean weekend and can’t keep up with Russell, he will be the first to criticise himself, and I will be the second.

      1. Kubica was always overrated, he was slower than Nick Heidfeld on avg in there time together people just remember when Kubica was doing well in 08. I remember when you said Kubica was better than hamilton lol. This year will be embarassing for him.

        1. He was never overrated, and was not slower overal with heidfeld. Where do you get that? Kubica had a pole and race win and led the championship, heidfeld did zero of that! Kubica was the best driver in f1 in 2010 (in a 4th best car) according to nearly every fan and media survey in 2010, his last season, and had a contract to race with ferrari in 2012, heidfeld did not, OK?

        2. Also kubica beat Hamilton in the few times they raced in karting, and also in f3 as teammates in macau, those are facts. 2010 in a Renault kubica did much better than Hamilton in a better car on a drivers circuit. Can you deny that? Success does not mean better.

          1. Monaco 4th best car.

    8. I would like to make correction to this statement “but will adjust his expectations about how much wheel-to-wheel racing he is likely to do in the near future.” this is just interpretation of the author. I’ve seen/read all interview with him after the race in english and polish (I’m a Pole btw). He was talking about adjusting but regarding practice sessions, he was talking about the pit lane wall brushing. He told, he was finding the limit there like in old times. He didn’t suggest like this article is that he need to change something regarding wheel-to-wheel racing. The only wheel-to-wheel racing was at start/1st corner. He said he took the first corner even with big margin, going deep to inside of the corner. He also said that the late winter testing problems, and used parts in that testing made him prepared like in 20% for first race, and those problems will be a hiccup also in next races, which also be probably more like testing not racing.

    9. I hope for his sake that the main reason he got lapped by his (rookie) team-mate was indeed a damaged car.
      But it doesn’t bode well, that in a team and a new car that lacks spare parts as per his own words, Kubica crashed 2~3 times in the weekend and his rookie team-mate seemed to bit a more stable pair of hands… But Kubica is like a rookie considering what has happened to him and the huge time away for F1.

      1. None of the damage to the car was kubicas fault. In qualifying all he did was get a puncture and didnt damage the car. In the race gasly drove over kubicas front wing at turn 1. The damage then happened as the front wing dislodged, damaging his floor and diffuser which I bet was far worse than hamilton’s tiny damage on his floor that has got many articles. Kubica then got fitted a non Melbourne race spec front wing, and also lost a mirror. Thats your answer, he will have better race weekends, he didn’t ruin his own race like ricciardo did. It was actually fun seeing ricciardo not being able to pass kubica for a few laps after they both pitted together, though I’m sure ricciardo had damage too. Yesterday in a Polish interview, kubica said he will never forget driving into the pits after that race, and was very thankful to the team over the radio for their efforts

    10. Just thinking out loud….what if Williams actually just tested at say, Silverstone?
      I know it’s a violation of the rules.
      But these are FIA rules, not a penal code, so what’s the worse that could happen grid place penalty, loss of points for 20 weekends? If any team could ask for mercy from the court it would be Williams.
      Williams seem destined to finish the season last either way, right, so why not get actual (and less costly than a race weekend) testing done, take your licks and get on racing?

    11. I think he is talking and complaining more than anyone else, he’s whining all the time, just drive and move on, prove ur self before whining, ur qualifying laps were as sh…. as no one could ever imagine.

      1. Oh my, that is a big showcase of complexes right here.

      2. It is difficult to not complain in his situation. He is coming back after 8 years break desperate to do testing, which is already very limited, and he can’t even do that properly because team was late with parts.

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