Robert Kubica, Alfa Romeo, Albert Park, 2022

Q&A: Kubica ‘shocked’ by ‘completely different’ Alfa Romeo in Spain

2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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Last weekend Robert Kubica returned to the cockpit of a Formula 1 car in an official session for the first time since he substituted for Kimi Raikkonen in last year’s Italian Grand Prix.

The Alfa Romeo reserve driver had sampled the team’s latest car during a brief, nine-lap run in pre-season testing, and again in a Pirelli tyre test more recently. He was surprised how different the car felt on hard tyres around the high-speed Circuit de Catalunya.

Q: How was the experience here?

Kubica: It was fine. I have to say, I got a bit of a different feeling to Imola, where I tested a couple of weeks ago, which was a bit shocking.

Okay, I was not expecting as easy of a car to drive as it was in Imola. Imola was, I think, one of the best, if not the best car I drove in my career, from feeling-wise and from the simplicity of driving. Of course, Barcelona is quite different, conditions are different, the track after all weekend is more rubbered, so everything comes to you.

Here it was quite shocking, also with hard compound, I never drove it, so the first time was not easy, I would say. Then of course I jumped to the soft compound, you don’t know what to expect, it is a one-lap tyre so you go [in] kind of blind.

Kubica had already driven the Alfa Romeo C42 twice
All in all, I think it was a good session, I’m happy to see that, although I haven’t driven from Monza last year, in Imola it was okay straight away on the pace. Also here, I think the pace was good and I’m happy that the feeling is back to 2020, because last year I was struggling in the car, so this is promising.

Q: How did the car feel today compared to when you drove it beginning of the year?

Kubica: Well, at the beginning of the year, I didn’t drive it in Barcelona, I just did installation laps here in Barcelona. Of course the conditions are different and the car is quite different to the car we launched.

I can only compare it to last time I drove it in Imola a couple of weeks ago on a Pirelli test, which is quite different to what I was expecting. But definitely it was not an easy session, I was quite shocked because I have something in my mind which would feel completely different to what I got, based on my Imola experience.

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Q: What was your feedback to the engineers then on how to take the car forward this weekend?

Robert Kubica, Alfa Romeo, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022
“I’m happy that the feeling is back to 2020” – Kubica
Kubica: It’s quite difficult, especially in a one-hour session, for me. I can give my feelings to them, like feedback, but I cannot really guide them. I have strong feelings about some areas, but we have the hard compound for quite a long run and then the soft compound which is like one-and-a-half seconds faster, it’s only a one-lap tyre especially with this heat.

So my first lap I was quite shocked. I still put quite a good lap together, but definitely the feeling is quite different to what I reported to them after my Imola test.

Q: When will we see you again in another practice session?

Kubica: I hope soon.

Q: So is it scheduled?

Kubica: Kind of, I think quite soon probably. I don’t know if things are changing also.

Here we brought quite a significant upgrade. So it’s also depending on what is going on, or how it is scheduled. There are some priorities on some weekends, on some others. For sure it will not be Monaco, which is normal.

Probably it will be some kind of track where it’s quite easy to get up to speed because also losing other race drivers one session is penalising to them, so you have to adapt to this.

Robert Kubica, Alfa Romeo, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022
Kubica will have another outing in the car later this year

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2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

Ed Hardy
In 2019, Ed started working on Formula One writing articles during a race weekend. Alongside that, he also built up experience in football working...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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9 comments on “Q&A: Kubica ‘shocked’ by ‘completely different’ Alfa Romeo in Spain”

  1. Still I didn’t understand if he was shocked because the car felt much better or much worse. It’s so tiring when the driver gives these word-filled statements that give no real answer, and the journalist doesn’t ask direct questions to clarify. I want to know the facts, not the feeling. Reporting feeling without fact is just useless clickbait journalism.

    1. He was shocked compared to the Imola test where the car felt the best – you can easily guess that the car was more difficult to drive during the Barcelona FP1.

      I doubt that he can tell if the car was better/worse in terms of pace – he just doesn’t have enough time in the car. What’s more, drivers in general usually don’t “know” know the differences, they “feel” them so they can’t always explain what is wrong in the car, hence the vague answers.

    2. Yes I agree , a lot of words but in the end it felt empty.

      I too have no clue if the car was better or worse.

  2. Why would they kept letting him drive the car if he can’t give any feedback?

    1. To keep sponsors satisfied. At least Kubica is a very likable guy so those sessions are not such a bummer for us fans.

    2. Polish Orlen is a significant sponsor to the team @ruliemaulana.

    3. It’s better that he knows the car in case he has to step in for one of the main drivers, just like he did last year for Kimi.

      But you could ask the same question for all 3rd drivers: Why give them any opportunity to drive ever?

      1. Other 3rd drivers are often upcoming talents that may be in F1 in the future, so it’s an investment in the future. In the case of Kubica, I doubt he’s the future F1-star.
        Maybe he’s doing simulator work, and then a session with the real car might help him by showing where the simulator is off the mark.

        1. Nah, the whole “developing upcoming talents” is such a fake notion. Nobody’s “developing” anything by giving some upstart 20 laps to drive every 3 months. There’s only 1-2 rookies max. every season and it’s the guy with the best sponsorships deals and sometimes the fastest one too, but it’s not those training sessions that determine that perception.

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