Robert Kubica feels he’s had “no race pace” since his Formula 1 return after another frustrating weekend for Williams in China.
The Polish driver has brought up the rear of the pack in all three races this season, finishing 16 seconds down on team-mate George Russell at the Chinese Grand Prix in his latest outing.
Russell had also made an extra pit stop leaving Kubica baffled as to why long-run pace, one of his strongest assets in testing last year, has now abandoned him.
“I think that for whatever reason since I drove the new generation cars I had to work on my single-lap pace, but on the long runs I was always very good, and here since I drove this car – my first long run was in Australia – but the pace is nowhere and the feeling is much worse than I ever had on long runs,” Kubica told Motorsport.com after finishing P17.
“I have no grip. I think I managed to do something in qualy because the grip delivered by the tyres is much higher, but I cannot do the things that the guys in front are doing, or even George, so it’s very strange.
“I really tried everything but when you have no grip, there’s no magic in this sport.”
— ROKiT WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) April 14, 2019
Kubica qualified just 0.033s slower than Mercedes junior Russell in qualifying, but his ten fastest laps in the race were a second slower than the Brit’s on average.
“It looks like whenever the grip is lower, or even with the colder tyre temps when you struggle with the grip, I just cannot drive the car, and it was definitely not the case last year,” he stressed.
“As I said, probably last year I ended the season saying I definitely had to improve something on single-lap new tyre [pace], but one thing I was not worried at all was the race pace. Actually it was one of my strongest points, but [now] I have no race pace.
“I have no race pace against my team-mate. And when you see exiting corners you are wheel-spinning and losing the car and he’s pulling away.
“I’m not saying it’s the car, but there’s something we have to understand. I have very poor traction and actually after the debrief George said the traction was not so bad.
“As I said, it’s not only the car. There are different factors, but that’s how it is.”
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) April 14, 2019
The one-time Formula 1 race winner claimed that while the FW42 has moments of improvement, it also goes backwards, and is very much track dependent.
“I think the car is maybe getting slightly better sometimes and slightly worse other times,” he stated.
“It’s track dependent, conditions dependent and I think we had a better pace compared to others on Friday but you don’t know what they are doing.
“Ten years ago in this kind of situation I would try to push more. Probably I would do three or four laps quicker, but then probably I would be on the gravel with worn tyres and my pace would be slower.
“I really felt like I cannot do anything. I tried many things.”