In an in-depth interview for the Polish edition of Motorsport.com, Claire Williams talks about Robert Kubica‘s performance, his relationship with the team and team-mate, his future and the Polish fans.
2019 didn’t start well for Williams, with the team far behind other teams in terms of pace. The year started even worse for Robert Kubica who experienced many problems in the first five races and was consistently outpaced by his young team-mate George Russell. However, asked if Robert’s performances meet the expectations she had when he was signed, Claire Williams said he is delivering for the team in more ways than one.
“Definitely yes,” confirmed Williams.
“In truth, I am delighted with what he brings to the table. I think he has done everything that we asked him to do.
“One of the reasons why I wanted to have him in the team is his amazing technical knowledge regarding everything related to the car. That’s what we need from our drivers, to develop the car further. That is why [Kubica] is extremely useful from the engineering side. He has the ability to convey what is happening to the car, both to on-track technicians and the people working in the factory.
“This can have a decisive impact on how much our performance improves over the course of the year.”
Williams was asked if she thought there are areas where the Pole can still improve, considering his eight-year break from the sport.
“No. Robert is a born race driver. He approaches his work very seriously. He spends a lot of time with the team.
“Last year, as a reserve driver, he was with us during every race weekend. His previous experience in F1 allowed him to get to know the paddock, become familiar with how everything works and this is his big advantage over ‘classic’ rookies who do not have such knowledge.
“Robert immediately built his relationships with everyone in the team, he got familiar with our ways of working, and he also knows who does what in the factory. So I think he was very well prepared to return this season.”
Williams confirmed Robert’s involvement with the team as a reserve driver last year brings some much needed continuity to the team.
“Yes. Of course, this year we changed our cars and we have two new drivers. Sometimes this is risky. However, having Robert last year and seeing how he was involved, I think it’s a better solution than two drivers who are completely new to the team.”
When asked about his driving performances, Williams praised the Polish driver.
“I think he drives very consistently and evenly, and that’s what we need now. His approach is not a surprise for me because I know what kind of a driver he is.
“The position we find ourselves in is not easy for anyone to accept. Especially for a driver as ambitious as Robert. However, as I said, he doesn’t lose his positive attitude and maintains morale within the team, which is very important to us.”
But it hasn’t been a smooth return to Formula 1 for Kubica. In the first five races he was beaten by his team-mate in both qualifying and race. Additionally the Pole complained about his car performing differently from George Russell’s while on the same set ups. Asked about this, Williams said she thinks the drivers are close in their performances despite the discrepancy in the results.
“I think that at the moment both drivers are more or less on the same level,” insists Williams.
“This is just the beginning of the season. Robert believed that his chassis, his whole car, and the individual components were different. We’ve done the analysis and are still working on understanding this. Normally, the chassis and parts are almost identical. However, if the driver informs about a problem, the most important thing is to listen to him.
“In general, I think that their pace in qualifying is similar.”
There is a significant age and experience difference between Kubica and Russell. Despite this, Williams doesn’t think any differences are visible on the track.
“I don’t see them. I think George is doing as well as Robert despite being a rookie. Personality plays a role here. One cannot analyze someone’s reactions through the prism of age-related stereotypes. It all depends on the individual and how he deals with specific situations.”
When it comes to the relationship her drivers have with each other, Williams is happy.
“Both of them are in good relations with each other and it’s nice to observe.
“This is the thing every team boss wants. Our drivers understand that they have to do the work and fight on the track, although it must be clean, because we do not need any incidents. So they work together and share knowledge on a greater scale that I would expect them to. Robert and George provide a lot of information to our engineers.”
Taking into account the age and experience difference between the drivers, Williams was asked if she thought there are any mentor/student dynamics developing between them.
“No. I think they are a fairly even duo. I doubt Robert would like to be a mentor now and I doubt George would think that he needs someone like that now.
“When Robert raced in Formula 1 it was very different. There is probably not a lot of information that Robert could share at the moment.
“George also has a lot of experience because he learned from drivers who are currently driving in Formula 1.”
The talked moved on to Kubica’s extremely passionate Polish fans. Claire Williams said the support has been very welcome by the team.
“I love them. They are extraordinary. They came during testing when it was clear that we had serious problems. To see them along with a large flag supporting Robert was moving.
“The same thing happened in Australia. Around our base there were many die-hard Polish fans cheering Robert and the whole team. I think this support is invaluable, especially when things don’t go very well.
“We are very grateful to Polish fans at the moment and we hope that we will manage to reverse the situation a little, so that Robert could show more of his talent, which he undoubtedly has.
“This is our main goal – to reward the support and faith of Polish fans not only in Robert, but also in the entire team.”
And Finally, Williams was asked if she thought Robert could climb the top step of the podium again.
“I think so, if he has the right car,” concluded Williams.