Robert Kubica was 19th quickest in his first FP1 session since 2010 at the Spanish Grand Prix but insists he was encouraged by his ability to deal with a difficult Williams car.
Williams has struggled on the whole this season, with Lance Stroll delivering the team’s first points courtesy of eighth place at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. In his role as reserve and development driver, Kubica replaced Sergey Sirotkin in the first practice session in Barcelona but Williams continued to have trouble, with a spin for Kubica immediately preceding Lance Stroll getting stuck in the gravel and ending his running prematurely.
“It felt reasonably the same as all the other times,” Kubica said of being back in the car. “I feel I have less emotions, which is good. It means it is becoming more natural after [the] long time I’ve been out of the sport.
“In the end, it’s difficult to say it was enjoyable because our car balance was very bad and it was very difficult to drive, so it was difficult to enjoy. But I’m satisfied with the session and how I reacted to difficult conditions and difficult balance. It sounds strange that you can be happy about P19, but actually I’m happy.”
Asked if he takes anything from being quicker than Stroll in the session, with his teammate slowest overall after his off, Kubica replied: “No… Because I know my value.
“I don’t have to look at lap times. It sounds strange. Often people forget motorsport is a sport. All sportsmen are practicing and training as often as possible. I know that if I would have a chance to drive the car every week, like permanent race drivers, there is more room to improve.
“Already now, I have seen it in winter testing, when I jump in after two months, and I have seen it now. Whatever is missing is only a question because I’m doing it every two months – if there is something that is missing.”
With Kubica’s left hand clearly dominating his driving style when on-board footage was shown, the Pole says the loose grip with his right hand has little bearing on what he can extract from the car.
“I drive like my body and what my limitations allow me. After my accident, I discovered to do a roundabout in a road car, you don’t have to grab the steering wheel. You can use friction to turn.
“F1 is not a road car. But I have also been in the school where they give you a bird in the hand and you have to hold it so it doesn’t fly away but you can’t hold it too tight that it gets scared. This is the way you have to hold the steering wheel.
“When I was racing in the past, once in Malaysia – one of the first weekends I did in 2006 – there was footage when you saw me driving with three fingers open. I remember engineers were shocked. They said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, probably you don’t need to use all power you have, you just have to use what is enough.’
“Probably the way I drive is enough [for] what I’m doing, otherwise I would not be here – I think I would not have this opportunity or tests last year and I would not plan to do 160 laps in an F1 car. It looks different than 10 years ago and it looks different to the others. The outcome is the same, or nearly the same.”