Robert Kubica: "We want to get back to scoring regular points" Spa is a unique circuit - what challenges does it present? Spa is quite different to all the other circuits we run at because, although we use lower downforce levels similar to ...
Robert Kubica: "We want to get back to scoring regular points"
Spa is a unique circuit - what challenges does it present?
Spa is quite different to all the other circuits we run at because, although we use lower downforce levels similar to Canada, this circuit has many more high-speed corners. That makes it tricky to balance the downforce level with getting good top speed, which you need because there are two very long sections at the start and end of the lap, where you spend a long time at full throttle. Often, this is a circuit that throws up some surprises, and suddenly cars that haven't been quick all year can be good in Spa. From the team's point of view, we will be running the f-duct for the first time this weekend, and we hope it will work straight away so that we have as much practice time as possible to extract the maximum performance from this system.
Will the f-duct change the approach to this race?
We have seen a tendency for cars running the f-duct to use higher downforce levels than normal, because they can stall the rear wing and still generate good top speed. I think that will change the approach to Spa, too, because teams will be able to run quite a lot of downforce and still achieve good top speed. Although this is a circuit we all like driving on, it's still a track where car performance is very important.
What do the drivers find so enjoyable about Spa?
It's definitely a circuit all the drivers enjoy and we all look forward to driving there. It's a bit different to the other circuits: we have this combination of low downforce levels and high-speed corners, there are a lot of corner combinations where they flow from one exit to the entry of the next and the circuit is quite wide so you can choose different lines. It's a good circuit for racing, too, because the long straights can give good chances to overtake, and that can make the races quite interesting.
You had a tough afternoon in Hungary. What will your approach be to the final part of the season?
After such a long break, I'm not thinking about the last race but more on what's coming up. It will be a tough end to the season, because we have just two more races in Europe followed by some long trips to Asia, South America and the Middle East. I've been out of luck in the last three races, with no points in Silverstone or Budapest, so I would like to get back to how we were racing earlier in the year: scoring regular points and fighting for good positions. I think the target for myself and the whole team will be to close the gap to the top teams during these races.
Vitaly Petrov: "Budapest was a weekend where everything came together"
Vitaly, let's look back to Budapest where you finished fifth, your best result in F1. You must have been very happy with your performance...
It was a very satisfying weekend. We thought that we would be quick because our car works well on this sort of track. The car was easy to drive and I found a good balance with my engineers so that I could get the most from the car. It was a weekend where everything came together; we improved step-by-step; and I didn't make any mistakes. It was nice to begin the summer break after a race like that.
What have you been up to during the last three weeks?
I took some holiday to relax and saw my family and friends. Then I did some sports: waterskiing, jet-skiing and football, just to have some fun. It was nice to have a break and get refreshed, but I'm always ready to get back in the car. I also spent some time looking over videos of old races this year to analyse some things -- the good and the bad -- to see what I could learn and where I can improve.
Spa is always a favourite with the drivers -- what do you think of the track?
It's a circuit I know quite well from my GP2 experience and I'm happy to be going back there. For the set-up, it's really important to have a very good aerodynamic balance because the track has so many high-speed corners and you need good stability in the corners. Hopefully we will have our f-duct working well for this weekend so that we can be as competitive as we were in Budapest, even though Spa is a circuit with completely different characteristics.
What are your expectations for the weekend?
Anything is possible. If everything comes together: me, the car, and the team, the results will come as well. But we still have to wait and see how the f-duct works in free practice and how the car behaves in the high-speed corners. We know our car is already quite stable in the fast corners, but it's difficult to match the Red Bulls and the Ferraris. So it's difficult to know what to expect, but we will try our best.
Eric Boullier: "Ready to fight until the end of the season"
Eric, let's look back on Budapest where both R30s qualified in the top ten and showed good pace over the weekend. Were you satisfied with the performance of the car?
It was very good to see the relative pace of the car and to see both drivers qualify in the top ten. However, the outcome of the race was a mixed one because we missed the chance to get both cars in the top six. Also, we are here to fight everyone and it's clear that Red Bull are still much quicker than us. So we know that we still have a lot of hard work ahead to improve our pace if we want to fight with them.
Vitaly finished fifth in Budapest, his best result in F1. You must have been very proud of his performance?
The whole team was very happy with Vitaly and it was his best weekend so far. He and the team prepared the car well during free practice to be ready for qualifying, and then he had a faultless race. It was a complete weekend without any mistakes and I think this is as much as you can expect from a rookie driver.
What will this result do for his confidence as we enter the final third of the season?
I'm sure it will give him a boost. Now it's up to him to capitalise on this so that he can repeat this performance on a regular basis.
One of the most significant updates of the season has been the blown floor. Do you feel the team is now able to extract the maximum performance from it?
I think we still have some improvements to make in terms of the set-up on the car, but overall we are getting a considerable gain from running the blown floor. The drivers also seem happier with the balance of the car.
The team will introduce its f-duct this weekend. How big a challenge has it been to introduce this device?
It has been a huge challenge. To begin with we decided to focus our development on the blown floor and on other aero upgrades, which is why we are only introducing our f-duct in Spa. It's not an easy device to get right, but the one we have now looks promising in terms of the simulation results we have seen at the factory. But we still need to test it on the car, and this will be the priority on Friday. It's clear that Spa will be a circuit where the f-duct should bring big gains.
Can we expect the R30 to be as strong at Spa as it was in Budapest?
Let's say that on paper the f-duct should be a big step forward in terms of lap-time gain, so we are obviously keeping our fingers crossed that we can maintain the pace that we had in Budapest.
Formula 1 has just come back from its summer break. Is the team feeling refreshed?
I think that the development pace in Formula 1 is so intense these days that it's a very sensible idea to give the team a break in the middle of the season. It means that everybody can come back ready to fight until the end of the season and push hard with our development for 2011.