Although it arrived far later than expected, Robert Kubica is happy to finally be driving with his modified Williams steering wheel.
The team’s woeful start to 2019 meant they had other priorities with their FW42, but Kubica had been pushing since the start of the season for a wheel with more controls on the left-hand side.
Due to the injuries Kubica suffered back in 2011, he has limited movement and flexibility in his right hand, so having more of the buttons and dials on the left makes it easier for him to drive.
The steering wheel finally arrived after the summer break, and Kubica insists that it has been a help for him.
“It helps. It was supposed to be a steering wheel, which [I should have had for a] start the year, but it came a bit later than start of the year,” he told Motorsport.com.
“The difference is that two buttons are instead of right are on the left-hand side, and there is an additional paddle on the left-hand side.”
Williams‘ senior race engineer Dave Robson said that the wheel was always coming for Kubica, but that the team had bigger fish to fry.
“It’s one of those things that, when the car is as slow as it is, or certainly was earlier in the season, it’s very hard to justify upgrades that only suit one driver,” he explained.
“That’s the level we’ve had to face; if we’re faced with a new steering wheel or a new front wing, how do we play that? And that’s not easy. Clearly that hasn’t helped Robert, but it’s just one of the trades we had to make unfortunately.”
Robson also insisted that the new wheel wouldn’t necessarily improve Kubica’s lap times, which have been way below team-mate George Russell’s, but would just make things more convenient for him.
“It just makes it a little bit easier to access all the functions. You see particularly George [Russell] does a huge amount around the lap, switch changes, which do help him. And this new wheel makes it more accessible and easier for Robert as well,” said Robson.
“The laptime effect there is I guess the icing on the cake, which I think in terms of ultimate laptime is small, but I think it’s more that it’s been frustrating for him rather than the actual laptime loss.”