Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe praised Robert Kubica’s performance during testing in Abu Dhabi, but would not be drawn on any assessment of his abilities to race in 2018.
During the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, Lowe admitted the team would be analyzing whether Kubica’s injuries from a rally crash in 2011 would noticeably limit his ability to be competitive in a current car. On Tuesday, Kubica completed 100 laps before handing over to Lance Stroll and said his confidence had taken “a big boost” from how he performed on his first outing in this year’s FW40.
While impressed with what Kubica delivered, when reminded of his comments regarding assessing the Pole, Lowe insisted Williams and both drivers were focused solely on the Pirelli program.
“In all seriousness, this is a tire test and it’s been really great to work with Robert and Lance as well – the combination of the two – to look at the new tires for next year,” Lowe said. “We covered all the compounds except the superhard and the hard, but the other five compounds we have gone through – also referencing to the 2017 soft and ultrasoft.
“It was fascinating to be able to get the feedback on the tires, and in Robert’s case we also had the comparison to the 2014 car, which is also very interesting.
“It was a very smooth day. [There was a] little hurdle which we had; a puncture from some debris. By the way, did you have an explanation for Fernando [Alonso]’s off early on? Because it was the exact same time we got a puncture, so we wondered there’d been some debris he picked up or if it was a more catastrophic puncture.
“We suggested [a track inspection] because of the suspicion there was some link. That was an issue, as it meant we lost a set. We were on the low fuel run with that set. Other than that, it was a very smooth day.”
While Alonso had an off which the Spaniard didn’t blame on any outside factors, Kubica had a trouble-free day. Asked how quickly the Pole got up to speed in the 2017 car, Lowe replied: “Quite quickly.
“Not instantly. Robert is not super-human. He doesn’t know the car, he doesn’t know the tires. He doesn’t even know the circuit very well. May be not at all. He raced here a long time ago. So yeah, it took a bit.
“As we know from the race weekend, the tires are very difficult to bring in to temperature. Especially the harder ones you’re starting the program [with], as naturally you’d do, starting from the harder end. So it’s actually quite a difficult process to really hit it on the out lap and be ready for turn one. I think he did a good job considering those challenges.”