Robert Kubica, Williams, Baku City Circuit, 2019

‘I’m not happy with the performance but pretty happy with how my body, mind and brain reacted’

Robert Kubica driver performance analysis

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Robert Kubica’s return to Formula 1 in spite of the severe injuries he suffered in his 2011 rally crash was a remarkable feat. But while he saw out the season, it has not led to a long-term return to the top flight.

The scale of his deficit to rookie team mate George Russell indicates that, whether due to his injuries or his long enforced absence, or both, he lacks that blazing speed which was unmistakable at the beginning of his F1 career.

But he drew satisfaction from defying those who doubted he could ever compete in an F1 again, in spite of the obvious shortcomings of the Williams FW42.

“I think the general picture is massively hidden by what we went through this season,” he said. “Many things did not help and actually did influence in a negative way what I was able to do. Coming back to a competition sport, as Formula 1 is, on the highest level of motorsport, after a long time and with my limitations, a lot of people did not even think I would be able to race.

“I heard many stories that in turn one that I will not be able to react to situations. And probably the opening lap is one of the things which I managed well this season.

“I heard rumours that I would not be able to race in Monaco. And probably Monaco was one of my best drives during this year, although I was still far behind, but feeling-wise it was positive.

“I’m leaving this season, of course not happy with the general performance, but pretty happy with how my body, my mind and my brain reacted to the difficult challenge I had this year.”

Qualifying: Lap time

The lower the lines, the better the driver performed

Frustratingly for Kubica, even when he was able to put all of his best sector times together, he still languished up to three tenths of a second off Russell. The gap between the pair of them if anything widened slightly as the year went on and Russell gained experience.

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Race: Start versus finish

Points were almost never a possibility for Williams. The one bright spot in Kubica’s season came in Germany, when he grabbed the team’s only point of the year in wet conditions. It was also one of just two occasions he took the chequered flag in front of his team mate.

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Race: Share of points

Race: How often Kubica finished in front of every other driver

Kubica’s frustrations with the car were amplified by its inconsistency. In Mexico, one of his better performances of the year, the car’s handling seemingly transformed overnight before race day despite no significant changes being made to it.

Robert Kubica, Williams, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2019
The car’s variable performance frustrated Kubica
“It’s difficult to explain,” he said. “In the beginning of this season, during the season we did have similar situations where normally you start doubting what you changed, what you did not change and stuff like this.

“In reality, we hadn’t changed anything between Saturday and Sunday. So it’s not like in the past I was changing 50% of the car. In the end, the physics is staying the same. So something which has the same effect on Friday, on Saturday should have same effect [again]. It is not that suddenly you miss grip. It’s something which is a bit strange.”

It made for a season which was “very difficult, very complicated”, said Kubica. “One of the things which I think I miss most is consistency of delivering and how the car is feeling.

“This car is not the easiest one, it has not massive downforce, but it shouldn’t vary performance or the feeling of it in such a big way from one session to the other. And you cannot explain it with the track condition or stuff like this because the feeling I get as soon as I leave pit lane, I’m 90% sure it is going a good way or bad way.”

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Race: Reasons for retirements


2019 F1 season

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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...

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12 comments on “‘I’m not happy with the performance but pretty happy with how my body, mind and brain reacted’”

  1. While his performance was nowhere near what his fans – and fans of motorsport in general – would have hoped for, I still have mad respect for him trying.

    1. Likewise

    2. Yes but the earth isn’t flat.

  2. The inconsistency he describes makes me think williams had some horrible, horrible issues with that car. either it was unbelievably sensitive to changes in climatic conditions (not beyond the realms of possibility with the pirelli tyres, short track time and a lack of downforce) or, more worryingly, there were significant build issues which meant the car did not stay in ‘shape’ from session to session. we know they were very late with the car and that they were short of parts, but perhaps it was even more heath robinson than we imagined.

    1. The inconsistency he describes makes me think williams had some horrible, horrible issues with that car.

      @frood19, the fact Paddy Lowe was sack a week after the car first hit the track makes me think you are 100% correct. Hopefully the changes they’ve made since his departure will have an impact, but if the car isn’t ready for the first day of testing again this year then that will be a very bad sign.

      1. Let’s see is he on pace with Alfa this year. If he can do fairly good times against Kimi and Antonio that Williams really was a duck. But if he’s off the pace also in Alfa then we can agree the truth.

  3. I like the Share of Points donught. :O)

    1. A feat unmatched by even multiple WDC champions like Hamilton and Vettel. Kubica really is the GOAT ;)

  4. still blaming williams?
    lol, does alfa know what they are getting themselves into?

    1. All drivers have tactics. I believe that Kubica rapidly discovered he wasn’t up to racing and decided to divert attention from his poor driving to Williams. He blaming them for his poor results from the first to the last race of the year. He used every excuse in the book, his car was different to George Russells, his car changed on race day, he didn’t have the new parts, Kubica had an excuse at every race. Whatever he says, the results are in the book – he was beaten by Russell at every race, except one. If Williams were not in dire need of Kubica’s sponsorship money, he’d have been sacked during the season.

      In comparison, George Russell never said a bad word about Williams or the car.

  5. There’s a bit of a contradiction between the headline and the sub-header…

  6. I do think there is the possibility of the 2 cars being different. I don’t think it’s some big conspiracy, but I do believe that Williams only had the capacity to bring whatever updates they could muster, to one car. It’s only natural that after so many years away and the uncertainty of how he would personally fare in race conditions played a part. I believe that improving race by race was severely hampered by the utter lack of consistency in the Williams car. It could be that it was a number of issues that contributed to the lack of performance. I am interested to see how his pace is in his new team. That should tell us, for sure, what his real pace is.

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