Robert Kubica, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019

Williams grip no better even if we put rear tyres on the front – Kubica

2019 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Robert Kubica says his Williams’s lack of grip in the Bahrain Grand Prix was impossible to cure, even had they tried extreme solutions.

The F1 returnee has faced a challenging comeback in a car which is underdeveloped and short on parts. In Bahrain he was the only driver to start the race on the medium compound tyres – the rest used softs – and Kubica said he “just had no grip”.

“It looked like in the beginning of the race I could somehow hide [it]. Opening laps are more about improvisation, especially when you are far behind, it’s survival. Probably I just got better feeling with the wind and stuff like this but once everything was settled everybody took their own pace and I knew I didn’t have it.

“So it was kind of survival and trying to bring it home. I was so slow in some corners to try to protect the rear tyres but I was still sliding and still overheating them so I just really struggled with the grip. Everybody was struggling, definitely, with these windy conditions. But when you have no stability in steady conditions if you add the wind and used tyres then the game is over for you.”

The team is suffering from a vicious cycle of poor tyre performance, he explained.
“I think we could [have gone] longer but I started degrading quite a lot also in the first stint in order to stay in touch with George [Russell].

“When you are starting on harder tyres you have worse warm-up so you slide more. By sliding more you create more temperature, by creating more temperature you have less grip, so you slide even more and it is a snowball.”

Kubica said the car’s performance is “dominated” by its lack of grip and even extreme solutions would make no difference.

“You [could] do whatever you want: you could put rear tyres on the front, it would be dominated by the effect we are having. I can only try to help it with the tools but it’s so big that it’s impossible to turn it around.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

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...
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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

49 comments on “Williams grip no better even if we put rear tyres on the front – Kubica”

  1. For them to have a car that’s even worse than last year is unfathomable. You are almost talking about it being sabotaged!

    1. Hanlon’s razor

      1. BlackJackFan
        6th April 2019, 4:53

        Sharp retort… :-)

    2. And last year’s car was actually worse than the year prior as well… So they’re not even at 2017 levels while every other team has made big strides.

    3. It’s as though their performance is even Lowe-r than before.

  2. Would love to hear a word from @scarbs based on Roberts comments here and reported elsewhere.

    I, who have zero experience, would speculate they have an underdeveloped front wing and bargeboards controlling the infamous Y250 vortex, effecting the whole car

    But if i *knew* that, and had a quick solution, I’d sell that to WilliamsF1 for a cool million :)

    1. These kind of issues are rarely caused by just one thing. While the y250 vortex is probably one area of the problems there are lots of other issues with the car probably causing different kind of issues. Williams claims to know what the issue is and russell did say in one interview that it could/would take months to fix it. Or not. Williams also have lots of problems outside the car. Lack of spare parts, long delays to get any new parts on to the car and a management reshuffle. They just lost their lead car designer and brought patrick head back from retirement. On track the mid field is getting more and more competitive so any gains williams may get out of their car will more likely be matched by the competitors.

      1. @socksolid Didn’t hear about Patrick Head, was that on this site?

    2. @uneedafinn2win You wonder whether its an aero problem eg lack of downforce at the front… or a mechanical one related to suspension or balance. It could easily be one, the other or both.

    3. In 2009, the McLaren MP4-24 was a whopping 3 seconds off the pace in winter testing. It’s been described as one of the worst F1 cars in modern history. It was terrible. It was slow on the straights, diabolical in the corners. Even with KERS, it was a pig.

      Eventually they discovered that under certain circumstances, the wash off the front wing was stalling the rear wing. Neither component was defective, but the combination of the two parts was catastrophic. As soon as they fixed that, the car became at least mildly competitive.

      Also, my pet theory is that this interaction led to the development of the F-duct, but I’ve never heard anyone say so.

      1. The car eventually won two races. But those were the days when McLaren had the technical nous to turn around a dog of a car in a season.

  3. *affecting (stupid autocorrect, grumblegrumblegrumble…)

  4. they should rehire paddy just to fire him one more time

    1. i.e. Do a Kvyat on him?

  5. The worrying thing is this is the second year in a row they have a “fundamental” issue with the car, to me this indicates a lack of understanding of how it is performing on track. I doubt very much this is to do with the individual talents and knowledge of their staff. You could argue its a lack of resources, but not only is their budget larger than most of the midfield they also more or less broke even last year. To me this implies there is a lack of correlation between their CFD, wind tunnel and track performance, after all if the data you’re working on at the factory doesn’t match reality you stand no chance of fixing it.

    1. Roy Joseph Ruddy
      4th April 2019, 12:23

      Wasnt it this time last year, that there is no problem with the cars it is because the drivers are useless, thereby screaming to replace one of them, if not both if at all possible, he would surely shave a sec. Or 2 of their times immediately.
      Move forward the car is still the same but not the drivers fault how is that so.
      Maybe kubica is not worth all the hype.
      Dont hear russell complaining, just going along on his merry way.

      1. I believe Williams knew there was a serious problem with last year’s car after one lap at the pre-season testing.

        1. @drycrust, it depends whom you speak to – Kubica has asserted that the drivers were aware of the problems pretty much immediately, but that the engineers at Williams refused to believe them until the first race.

          On the other hand, however, there were a lot of negative reports about the erratic handling of the car from those who were at the circuit, and a lot of observers were quick to predict that Williams were going to be near or at the back of the pack last year. It would seem unlikely, if so many outside observers were noticing how badly the car seemed to handle, that Williams weren’t noticing the same pattern themselves.

      2. It’s not so hard to see the difference between Robert’s and George’s car.. Look on the Bahrain onboards, in the corners Kubica has to fight with the car much more than Russel..
        In every corner he has less grip and has to do counters.. look at 0:54..
        Here i will paste a comparsion how many km Williams has done with both cars in this year..
        We see that Kubica’s car has done over 5000 km and Russel’s car only 1500.. I think i don’t have to tell more

      3. To be fair, stroll hasn’t exactly impressed against Perez so there likely was a solid half a second of pace extra in the 2018 williams, that still would’ve left them last though so.

  6. robinsonf1 (@)
    4th April 2019, 10:14

    My boss told me a couple of weeks ago that some of Williams’ problem is down to their employment philosophy. Whilst all the other teams basically shared engineers (contractors that would go from team to team and share knowledge), Williams has had a ‘promote from within’ attitude. Whilst this is nice for the people working there, it also means that they lost touch with their competitors.

    1. That would fit the narrative that Claire is pushing in the Netflix documentary and even her stubborn refusal to stick to aluminium gearbox casing whilst the rest of the field uses CF. Interesting.

      1. To be fair, the trend for teams to use a fully carbon fibre gearbox casing is reasonably new – the first example was in 2004, with the BAR 006, but it’s worth noting that even major factory backed teams only slowly switched to using a carbon fibre gearbox.

        For a lot of smaller teams, and indeed even for a lot of larger teams, using an aluminium casing was a lot more cost effective – Red Bull kept using aluminium until late 2009, for example – and, even then, it was fairly common for teams to use a composite design rather than a fully carbon fibre casing to begin with, particularly where there were bearing or other areas that needed to be sealed (as achieving a leak proof seal with a fully carbon fibre gearbox is quite challenging).

        Similarly, when Mercedes bought out the Brawn team, they actually used an aluminium casing for several years – the 2013 W04 was the first Mercedes works car that switched from aluminium to carbon fibre. The factory Renault team have also only just started using a carbon fibre gearbox too – they were still using a titanium casing up until 2018.

        Whilst people focus on it, I would say that Williams’s decision to keep using aluminium is actually fairly sensible – the cost/benefit ratio for switching to carbon fibre isn’t great, and it’s worth noting that it’s really only the manufacturer backed teams that could afford to develop one in the first place (and, even then, often only several years down the line). When you look at the smaller teams that use a carbon fibre case, it’s always bought from another team (perhaps there is an argument for buying that in for Williams, but in doing so it can restrict your rear suspension geometry options).

        I wouldn’t be surprised if the introduction of the budget cap and standardised internals might see some teams revert back to an aluminium or titanium casing. Carbon fibre may be slightly lighter, and possibly there could be a stiffness advantage but, on the other hand, I believe that fatigue cracking can be more of a problem with carbon fibre, and as mentioned above carbon fibre creates difficulties when trying to bond metal parts to it.

        1. Thank you for this in-depth analysis, so nice to learn something new. Respect.

    2. @robinsonf1 When your boss favours the idea of sharing employees rather than promoting his own staff, it’s time for you to start worrying ;) Kidding of course

      1. robinsonf1 (@)
        4th April 2019, 12:04

        In the normal world you’re completely right. But in F1 if you’re a contractor earning £40/hr and paying little tax you don’t really mind which team you work for!

        1. I am really interested. How much do f1 team employees/mechanics earn as a contractor. Is 40/hr a normal rate?

          1. It’s not mechanics so much as they’re not going to help your development but engineers.

            I know someone who is a salaried mid level engineer in mclaren auto (car division) who earns around 60k, i’d expect that to be the same for the race team (prestige bonus but that just means you’ll accept less) and contractors generally earn at least 50% more than their salaried counterparts due to the lack of annual leave, sick leave, pension contributions etc.

            Taking 6 weeks time off £40/hr @ 40hr week is around 75k so this seems about right for base. I’d imagine there’s a lot of overtime going as well.

      2. A pragmatic boss. Outsourcing is like having only the best employee but without the need to provide long term benefit.

  7. I don’t know about all this. Clearly, the car is no good, but Kubica was involved in its development…so why is he criticizing it all the time like this. He is not very diplomatic about it either…almost seems as if he wanted to get fired by the team. That way he would be able to maintain the line that his driving was as good as ever and it was all down to the car’s shortcomings. Just a theory.

    1. @gpfacts Was he really involved in its development? He might have been around the team, but certainly didnt do a substantial amount of running in 2018 to direct the design choices on the 2019 car.

      Kubica has always been a straight shooter, and a fair tough character. You’re probably getting the cold hard truth about where Williams are right now, with no sugar coating.

    2. Kubica did not design the car, he is a driver, he had no input into the design, that is paddy lowe area and the reason Lowe has been kicked out of the team go’s he failed.

      1. The impression I’ve got is the person who designed the car wasn’t familiar with F1’s rules because the car arrived at the pre-season testing with a non-standard front suspension and non-standard mirror arms, both of which had to be corrected before racing at Melbourne.

        1. @drycrust, to be fair, when Craig Scarborough discussed those points, both of those changes were actually fairly insignificant.

          Equally, it isn’t as if we’ve not seen that happen to other cars in recent years. Don’t forget that Ferrari were forced to change the design of their wing mirrors just last year, and it is not the first time that has happened either – they were also forced to change the position of their wing mirrors in 2010 as well, as were a number of other teams.

          1. Thanks for reminding me about Craig’s article. I re-read it.

  8. Well Robert did pretty good in the first stint I thought. I don’t know what happened after lap 11. I guess that’s when his tyres went off and he got new tyres that didn’t help one bit and this is what he’s referring to. George Russell drove strong too. I think this current car, if brought out after some imaginary stupendous effort during last season, would have been competitive in last years’ field. Paddy Lowe obviously never figured it out in time or couldn’t get it done in time last year.

    Everyone else has made such strides since last season that now just solving some of last years’ problems is not nearly enough. They really need a design breakthrough and an architecturally new vehicle to match the field this year. Not having parts though seems like a separate issue. Regardless of the design, why is the factory output low and what is the problem with getting manufacturing done? How do they get on the same page as a team like HAAS?

    A bit of a funny thing happened when I was watching Bahrain GP. They waved the checkered flag and my little couch companion knowing I have a bit of a Williams thing said, “Look! Williams came in second!”

    1. Why make a whole bunch of parts that you already know don’t work? That would be a waste of time and money. Also Kubica crashing 3 times in Australia helped cause the lack of parts.

      1. You mean F1 teams plan their production schedule with the expectation that their drivers will not damage parts in the first sessions of the season?

        That takes JIT manufacturing to a whole new level.

    2. Surly they can’t know in advance that parts won’t work. But regardless, that’s not their job. The factory job is to have parts ready because busted up parts fixed with duct tape don’t win races. If the car had been crashed 3 times I would understand. But that didn’t happen. The manufacturing process failed in one of its primary tasks. They failed to produce. I’m doubtful there was any existential thought process going on there.

    3. @pertwee

      From what I have read, Stroll Sr before buying F.I wanted Williams to do a HAAS with Merc. Claire turned it down.

      Williams are in this plight due to there own doing.

  9. Kubica and Russell had a good fight in Barhrain

    Onboard pole comparison:

    Start comparison: kubica does what more seasoned drivers do from the back of fieldand takes the first turn and turn 4 from wide, while Russell positions his car in middle of track, and loses out twice:

    Lap 3-7, where Russell passes Kubica, and Kubica repasses him. Then Russell passes again later:

    I Haven’t found it captured anywhere but Kubica retakes Russell after a couple more laps.

    end of stint one, Kubica stays infront after pit stop, but Russell quickly passes him:

    Kubicas first pit stop, 6th fastest of the race:

    Hard to make much of this all, Williams 1.5 seconds behind, and faster on yellow tyres than red tyres in race. Kubica started yellow, then switched to red, while Russel started red and switched to yellow. At least they had a decent battle for part of the race and matched each other in qualifying. Kubicas chassis was used for this weeks test, it still has not got a new floor since damage in fp1 in Melbourne, they just patched it up, not enough parts from hrt Williams. Looking at kubicas onboards, his car looks so loose…

    1. Looking for an edit button again.. Qualifying comparison is this link:

    2. Russell onboard showing end of stint one:

    3. @kpcart Wow! Thanks!

    4. Awesome links. Thx

  10. I really feel for Kubica at the moment. He technically has more to prove than Russel. We all know that Russel is an up and coming driver, but Kubica has effectively made the greatest come back I sporting history ( I don’t want to take anything away from Alex Zanardi) and he has put into an extremely difficult position. I think over the course of the season he will get closer to Russel, who let’s not forget has been actively racing up till now.

    Williams are in a very bad situation, and I really feel that they have no idea what their issues are. It’s time for Claire to step down, even if it is, to borrow a term from football, for the new manager effect. Jonny Williams was the heir apparent some time ago, give him a go if Franks wants to have a Williams at the helm. If not, seek outside help. There are plenty of seasoned senior racing team figures out there. I always thought Graeme Lowdon was a great team manager, somebody like him would be useful. What’s Adam Parr up to these days anyway? Worst case, they could even subcontract the job to an outfit like Prodrive, sure it’s a long shot, but they need to do something.

    1. Its easy to pick on Claire, but the car designers are at fault Williams is slower not only than 2018 Williams but also 2017. This is why Lowe got the boot, he failed as a massively paid designer, Williams should demand their money back.

    2. Some people are quick to poo poo Kubica but forget that Russell was GP2 champion last year and they seem very even.

Comments are closed.