Robert Kubica, Williams, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Kubica: Car behaviour “changed drastically” in qualifying

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In the round-up: Robert Kubica says the behaviour of his Williams changed “drastically” between runs in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

What they say

[We had] quite surprising oversteer balance. We did not expect to have such oversteer which somehow in some way a bit of it can be explained by temperatures and conditions. But the other one we have to understand. Somehow from run to run even in qualifying the car behaviour changed quite drastically.

We did try to on the last run go slower on the out-lap and I think it wasn’t a great idea, or let’s say it didn’t work as we were expecting. The idea actually was good because there was reasons of trying to make the rear tyres survive for longer, I had to struggle less with oversteer, save the rear tyres on the out-lap to have better grip on the push lap.

But unfortunately then the consequence was that the car becomes wider apart [from] the balance and more difficult. Actually when I thought there would be an advantage and I felt it was coming towards me at the end of the lap I gained a bit of lap time into 11, 12, then into 14 I tried to force a bit, maybe too much, and I arrived into 16 and paid a high price for it as I turned in and lost the rear of the car so I lost a bit of the lap there.

[On] the third run I think both of us were struggling with general balance of the car. It’s always like this when you fight for grip and you are always on the edge of the grip. It’s a question of trying to find the sweet spot but it’s difficult when actually probably you are already on the limit.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Dave is disappointed to learn F1 Vision won’t be back this year:

Huge shame, I got one of these for the Austrian GP last year and it was an excellent addition to the weekend. Having access to raw radio feeds was particularly welcome, as was commentary for the support races.

Belgium the year before was at a huge loss without it as the trackside commentary was 90% French and 10% English (understandable!), but with terrible 4G signal we struggled to get an English commentary stream online that wasn’t five minutes behind the action.

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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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  • 22 comments on “Kubica: Car behaviour “changed drastically” in qualifying”

    1. Is Ferrari looking at replacing Seb with Jody ?

      1. No, Charles is for the chop. He drives the car too fast.

    2. I would really like to see an article on Williams, and more specifically, why the current management structure remains in place. Most specifically, how Claire’s position doesn’t seem to be in question, at all? These past few years we’ve seen some very questionable decisions that turned the team for the worst. And in any normal situation, not just racing, but other sports and even regular businesses, I’d say the person where the buck stops is the first to get the rightful blame.

      But somehow this is not happening. Is it because the financials are fine. Is it because she is reasonably not responsible for these particular decisions. Or is it, dare I say, because Frank chose her to succeed him and continues to put his full backing behind her -if he still has that kind of influence, I don’t know-

      Like I understand they build a terrible car, two years in a row. I understand putting an inexperienced rookie like Stroll in that car because of the financials involved. I understand letting Bottas go last minute (provided there was a financial or other incentive towards Williams from Mercedes) and replacing him with Massa. But all of that adds up to a lot of “I understands” that have brought absolute ruin to this team. Surely Claire must be under immense pressure internally? And if not there, surely the media should be on her case like they were on -for instance- Kaltenborn’s?

      1. I understand they build a terrible car

        I don’t, especially with the second year actually being worse than the first.

        Letting Bottas go and eventually using that seat for Stroll’s megabucks doesn’t mean that the car should be an absolute turd, right?

        1. In this context “I understand” is more a “I understand this is a fact that happened” than an “I understand how this was allowed to happen.”

          But well, putting a rookie in your team I expect has certain consequences for the team. Not just an adjustment period or a lack of on-track performance for a while as they get used to procedures. But it’s also valuable development time you miss out on. One less experienced driver in the simulator giving feedback. In addition to development time in the simulator being lost to having your rookie driver get said experience.

          But yeah, all that still shouldn’t mean your entire aero team fails so hard that they build two bad cars in addition to not getting a car ready in time for testing.

      2. @aiii there was an article by Dieter on here recently: I think this year’s problems are more fundamental than last years – the financial problems hadn’t bitten until this year. the stories about them not having any spare parts are really alarming.

        but if we look at the last few seasons, there is a general decline that can be attributed to management decisions (albeit some of them unavoidable or with unforeseeable consequences). Bottas had to be let go (they got some cash and mercedes, as their engine supplier, had to be kept sweet) but they took the quick buck in promoting Stroll. the relative performances of bottas, massa and stroll clearly show what a step down in quality that was, in terms of driver line up. some say Stroll had a good result in Baku – massa (and indeed bottas) would have won without his problem, so I’m not that impressed.

        next, Massa retired and although it was probably his time, Williams could have done more to keep him and his experience was carrying the team in 2017. the real spiral of bad decisions (for me) starts with choosing Sirotkin over Kubica. ok, sirotkin had a good test session and there were some question marks of Robert’s fitness/ability to come back to the sport, but really Williams went for the quick buck again with the result that, in 2018, Stroll of all people became the senior driver! 2018 was extremely disappointing in terms of the car, but the engineering team were making the right noises about locating the source of the problems, and sorting it for the following year. even with those problems, they were just about in touch with the back of the midfield (terrible for Williams historical standards, but just about acceptable for these days), and I think with some quicker drivers they could have scored a few more points.

        in hindsight, they took Kubica for 2019 anyway, and (on limited evidence admittedly) he’s a match for the highly rated Russell, so as much as Sirotkin fought hard in 2018, it seems like he was the wrong choice from a performance point of view.

        the absolute disaster for this year is that the car is an abomination and even two good drivers are absolutely rooted to the back of the grid. this is where you have to really question the management of the engineering team. paddy lowe is highly renowned and his departure is highly questionable – did he just monumentally screw it up? did he never have the backing of the team? did he get pushed out? did he walk? – F1 teams are collectives, so it is ludicrous to lay the blame at his door.

        you really do have to question the management of Williams as it is today, but the problems that have got them into this mess were probably unavoidable, up to a point. As @dieterrencken said in his article, it remains to be seen what model of F1 team Williams wants to be, because their current ‘do everything in-house’ approach is not working out. I also predict their financial situation will worsen significantly when we factor in their (likely) consecutive 10th place finishes in the WCC.

        1. Well said.

          It was bad enough when Williams was the “new Minardi”. Now it seems to be the “new HRT”. This is beyond embarrassing.

          All the key technical post holders have been replaced – often several times – over the last decade or so. The inescapable conclusion is that the wrong people are managing the team.

        2. in hindsight, they took Kubica for 2019 anyway, and (on limited evidence admittedly) he’s a match for the highly rated Russell

          his single lap pace can be but kubica’s race pace has been dreadful, he was consistently over 1 second a lap slower than russell in china throughout the race and it was similar in melbourne and bahrain. kubica himself has admitted this also.

          kubica returning was a good story but i think the question has to be asked on if he was a good choice because he’s been the worst driver on the grid by a big margin in terms of race pace so far this year.

          1. Not every driver races with a damaged floor.

          2. Better watch race again or look for timesheets. If not for 2 stop strategy which wasnt planned Russell would be behind Kubica at the end.

        3. One thing I don’t remember where I read it but the idea there was that while claire manages the team frank is still doing all the big decisions. This puts claire in very difficult position if frank’s decisions are very different compared to what she’d do. She has to then try to make it happen while in worst case scenario frank is still micromanaging and controlling everything. This robs her authority in some cases to fix some issues that she otherwise could and if the communication is not that great then she might not even always know what is the plan ahead or what is even going on. Worst case she is not even sure about her position and neither is the team.

          The rift between frank’s son and claire could also be somewhere there causing issues. Jonathan did have racing experience and he did ran a succesful f2 (was it f2 team? Hard to find that info) team but for some reason claire got the job at the f1 team. So the questions of her skills at managing the team could just as well be valid but even if she was skilled at her job it is likely frank still has the final say which could hurt the combined effort of the team.

          I watched an adrian newey interview a while back and newey said that back then williams was pretty much team controlled by frank williams and patrick head. Newey had no chance to make any decisions as all decisions were made by the duo. Back then it worked but when patrick left the team you could see how frank could have problems handing over the team later. The team is frank’s diamond after all. A thing he massaged into existence out of nothing almost 60 years ago. Managing the team must be more than a way of life for him.

          Regardless of what is going on the whole spectacular failure to make even worse car and missing all deadlines after last year must be some kind of failure at the top of the leadership. But outside looking in it is impossible to tell where that issue is. Typically there are multiple issues when things get this bad.

    3. Sean Bratches met with representatives of six local governments in China

      Oh dear me – I am going to be laughing thinking about this for days to come.
      The way that man mangles the English language is going to have the Chinese totally bemused and bewildered.

      1. @nullapax What’s so weird about his English-speaking? I’ve never found it odd in any of his interviews I’ve listened to so far.

        1. He is a classic example of someone who can talk for ten minutes without actually saying anything.
          Just a stream of clever sounding words and concepts that don’t mean a thing.
          That is how he always comes across to me anyway – perhaps I have only caught him on his bad days :/

    4. That was a nice act by Seb, and BTW, how did he get the Ferrari road-car transferred to China?

      Regarding the COTD: I’ve never found myself being at a loss without a device like that in any of the three races (2010 Italian, 2012 Hungarian, and 2016 Abu Dhabi GPs) I’ve attended thus far. The trackside commentary is perfectly fine and features a good amount of English commentary along with the local language equivalent. In Monza, the live trackside commentary is, of course, conducted in both Italian and English, while in Hungary, the same is done in three languages which are Hungarian, English and German, and Arabic and English in Abu Dhabi.

      1. how did he get the Ferrari road-car transferred to China?

        Isn’t the mainland one of the biggest markets for Ferrari road cars? I’m sure the dealerships there were happy to oblige.

        1. Yep, China is a big market for Ferrari. The “new rich” love to make conspicuous purchases. Go into the parking basements under the residential high rises and you will see LOTS of Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, etc. Most with a heavy layer of dust on them because, well, drive one in the Beijing traffic? I could walk most places quicker😜

      2. robinsonf1 (@)
        17th April 2019, 16:35

        Don’t know what it’s like these days with the V6’s but in 2013 with the V8’s I couldn’t hear a thing from trackside commentary at Silverstone.

    5. “We want to see Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche in road-going hypercars. I think that’s what the fans want and what we want to race against.”

      Yes this is what we want.

      McLaren Senna, Aston Martin Valkyrie, Ferrari LaFerrari, Porsche 918, etc. Koenigsegg also expressed intrest in hyper car based regulations.

      I think alongside GT3 and then Hypercars it would be the perfect balance.

      Prototypes are dying out, but if it all becomes hyper car based, then there is great potential for LMP2 to be faster than Hypercars atleast on some tracks.

      But overall GT3 like hyper cars with 1000 hp, running around classic tracks, what is not to like.

      1. @jureo, the ACO have said they would have to downgrade the performance of the LMP2 cars heavily, because they are currently a lot faster than the target times for the hypercar formula.

        Right now, the ACO’s target lap times around Le Mans for a road car based hypercar formula is a3m30s lap time, which would make the proposed cars six seconds a lap slower than the LMP2 cars. The ACO has made it clear that they want the top classes to maintain a performance gap over the other classes, so a switch to the proposed hypercar regulations would force everybody else to have to downgrade their cars.

        It also sounds as if the proposed regulations really have been thrown out there as a bit of a desperate move by the ACO, as it sounds as if there are still a lot of problems with making those road cars fit for racing (especially on safety grounds). It has the problem that it risks excluding any privateer efforts, not to mention that it also undoes a lot of the work that the ACO had been doing in trying to reconcile the US sportscar racing regulations with the WEC regulations (there have been attempts to synchronise the DPi Gen 2 regulations with the WEC regulations, but this proposal would push them even further apart).

        As for your comment about “Prototypes are dying out”, that’s really only the case for the LMP1 category in the WEC, and I’d argue that’s more due to the ACO mismanaging things. The LMP2 and LMP3 categories of the support series, such as the European Le Mans Series, are oversubscribed with entries, as is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, whilst the IMSA has a fairly healthy list of DPi entrants for their series in the US.

        The other problem is that a lot of manufacturers seem to have flirted with the idea of the hypercar regulations, but there have been questions about whether the likes of Aston Martin or McLaren are really prepared to invest in the WEC – there have been a few cynics suggesting that they’re probably more likely to just stick with their customer GTE entries.

      2. The problem is McLaren wanting exclusively production car rules.
        That leaves the championship beholden to manufacturers … gives them way too much power.
        Aside from the fact that none of them have actually committed to the series yet.

        Production hypercars with rules to allow for competitive silhouette hypercars, sportscars & prototypes is far better for racing, better for race car & engine manufacturers, etc.

        1. Dale, I would say that it’s been Aston Martin who have been most aggressive in lobbying the ACO to make that change, although at the moment Aston Marton are still only committing to provide GTE cars to customers.

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