A successful F1 baptism for Kubica
As winner of the World Series by Renault, Robert Kubica had his first run in a Formula 1 car today. And not any old car, as it was the World Championship winning Renault R25. The Pole completed 41 laps, and set a fastest time of 1:17.997.
Q: Robert, what were your first impressions of the team?
Robert Kubica: I arrived at the circuit the day before yesterday to meet the different members of the test team. I listened to the radio conversations, and observed the Renault F1 Team's working methods. I also managed to watch the cars from trackside and although I had already seen F1 cars in action, I was very impressed with the cornering speeds.
Q: And what was your initial feeling when you went out on track this morning?
RK: I began running on the track when it was very cold. However, I needed to attack quite quickly to get the tyres and brakes up to temperature. Honestly, I didn't expect the performance gap compared to the Formula Renault 3.5 car to be so big. After all, along with the GP2 car, it is the fastest racing car in Europe after F1.
Q: What was your verdict at the end of the morning?
RK: I was pleased with the progress I made. That was what the team was really interested in, more than the absolute lap-times: to see how I worked with them, to give them feedback about the car. I tried to improve with every lap, and make no mistakes. From that point of view, it was a successful day.
Q: Was your work part of the team's wider testing programme?
RK: Not really. I was running the R25 with the V10 engine restricted to simulate the power levels of the V8 engine for next year. The team applied a set-up that made the car easier to drive and during the runs, we made some detail adjustments. But there was so much to learn that we didn't get too far in terms of set-up changes.
Q: How do you see the future?
RK: When I look back at 2005, I can it was a good year. I will turn 21 in one week, on 7 December, and my aim is to continue my career in Europe. GP2 seems like the best option, because it will get me a little bit closer to the world of F1.
Robert was replaced this afternoon by Giorgio Mondini, winner of the 2004 Formula Renault V6 Eurocup. The Italian completed 40 laps, with a best time of 1:19.093.
Q: How did you approach the test?
Giorgio Mondini: To be driving the world championship winning car is an extraordinary opportunity. My first aim was to enjoy the experience, without making any mistakes. It is not easy to understand how a car like this works in the space of a few hours, but it was really enjoyable.
Q: What impressed you the most?
GM: When I got into the car, to think to myself that I was in such a prestigious position was a strange feeling. At the wheel, the braking power and the downforce in the quick corners are what really take your breath away.
Q: How do you evaluate the progress you made?
GM: I understood something more each time we put on a new set of tyres. There are lots of things that don't come naturally when you drive the car for the first time, like the traction control. You think you are on the limit, but the electronic systems let you go even further. You need to have the confidence to do it -- and that only comes with experience."