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GP Week : Issue 18
5 Minutes with ... Robert Kubica GPWEEK: Let’s start in Canada. It’s the last lap, you’re about to hit the brakes for the last chicane. Are you thinking, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to win my first Grand Prix,’ or ‘Shit, I hope I don’t crash into the wall.’ ROBERT KUBICA: [Laughs] I was not thinking, I was just trying to bring the car home. The last 15 laps were like this, just trying not to do mistakes and to bring the car back in one piece. We managed this without any problems and won the race. We had a bit of luck, I must say, because without it, with our pace, we were not able to compete against Ferrari and McLaren. But we were always this season just behind them or in the middle of them and waiting for the opportunity. How much pressure is there though, knowing that it’s up to you not to screw things up? I think I have quite an easy job to do because in the end I had quite a big gap to second place which was Nick, and I knew we just had to bring the car home. It was important to keep the car on the track, which wasn’t easy because the tarmac was loose, so I was just off the line. They were the longest 15 laps of my F1 career, but also the slowest. Did you think at the start of the season that a win would be possible this year? Yeah. I think it’s always possible because there might be a crazy race, so in the end I was hoping to win one race but you can never be sure. Last year we had many technical issues which we had to improve, and this year we have 100 percent reliability and the car is running without problems so that’s very important. The first job for any driver is to beat his team-mate. Are you surprised that you’ve done such a good job of that this season? I have a different point of view on this. In the end I’m racing against all drivers, not only my team-mate. So first of all I concentrate on extracting the maximum from the car and then do the best job as possible. Let’s put it this way: if you stay in front of everybody you stay in front of your team-mate. You’ve been impressive from your debut in F1, but let’s not forget you were brought in to replace Jacques Villenueve, an F1 champion. How much pressure was that for you on your debut? I was not really under pressure. When I was a test driver in 2006 I had a very good time with the team. I was learning a lot, I was driving a lot, and at the end I was working for a very long time to reach this moment. It’s true that the moment came earlier than I expected, but in the end I was surprised that I didn’t find any additional pressure. When you work for something for a long time, and in the end you have two days to prepare for that, you cannot change anything. So there was no reason to panic as there was no way to improve. Let’s go back to the start then. You’re a kid growing up in Krakow. How did you decide racing was what you wanted to do? First of all it was just for fun, and then when I started to race in Europe in karting I thought I would always be a karting driver. In karting there are many old drivers who are doing it for many years and in this kind of job you can make money. Karting was my love. I like it still, because I love racing and everything is more simple in karting. Then I moved to single seaters and the goal was to become a professional driver, a Formula 1 driver, but I knew it would be difficult and I knew it might never come. So my goal, because I liked touring cars and it was more believable, was to go to DTM more than Formula 1. In Monaco this year, watching guys like you, Nico and Lewis, it looked like you were driving your cars like karts. Are the current generation of F1 cars like karts? Not really – but you put a good example. In Monaco you can see it more because you have to improvise more. It’s a mickey mouse circuit but you have to change direction very fast and in the end you have much less room for mistakes. Monaco shows a different way to drive to normal. Looking back on your early karting days, how much did you enjoy living in Italy? I think it was the best time in my life up to now. It was so relaxed and I enjoyed it 100 percent, even sleeping in the workshop. It was so interesting to know more about the mechanical and technical side and I was always very well integrated with the team. It felt like a family. Italian people are open and friendly and they always put a good atmosphere. Do you feel slightly Italian? Some people say I think like an Italian. I’m not sure. Italy as a country and a people helped me a lot and I learned a lot as a driver and as a person. I think this was because I was living alone and growing up much earlier without my parents. So the future? Do you see yourself winning the title with BMW? Maybe not this year, but in the future? We will see. I don’t know what the future will bring, I don’t know where I will be racing, I don’t know who will be strong. There are many question marks. For now I am concentrating on this year of racing and what’s going on now and trying to achieve as much as possible. You said that you felt at home in Italy and that Italian teams were like families. Do you think Ferrari would be like a family, somewhere you would enjoy driving? I don’t know … [laughs and smiles] maybe … Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to discover it. We will see … One of the single hottest properties in modern day Formula 1, Robert Kubica became the latest new F1 winner at the Canadian Grand Prix. He spoke to Will Buxton 20