December 11th, 2020

Robert's guide to Yas Marina

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN reserve driver, Robert Kubica, took part in Free Practice One at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix earlier today. With first-hand experience of the track under his belt, we asked him to share the secrets of the circuit hosting the final round of this season.

“I only raced once in Abu Dhabi with Sauber, when I finished 10th in the first race in 2009. The following year with Renault I was fifth.

“In 2010, I was not expecting Abu Dhabi to be my last Grand Prix for a long time. When leaving the track, there were no particularly special emotions, apart from the fact that it was the last race of the season – when you get to the end of the year, you are looking for a bit a break and it’s always a bit of a special one.

“It was a bit different last season because, although it was a tough year, I knew I would not be on the grid the following season. You know your future, you know what next year will bring – even though I didn’t know back then I would be working with Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN – and that naturally brings out more emotions.

“People remember that 2010 race because of that battle for the World Championship between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. Alonso would have needed to pass me to win the title but we never got involved in the fight, it was my team mate Vitaly Petrov who ended up stopping him!

“Personally, there is another memory that is stronger for me about that weekend. I was quite upset with what happened on Saturday with my qualifying, because it was the first time I did not qualify in the top 10, or I didn’t get into Q3, that season.

“I knew that well, because I was the only one outside of the Red Bull drivers, until that point, to achieve a clean run of Q3s. I wouldn’t say I was really angry, but I was looking forward to qualifying to be able to say, ‘Okay, I’m the only one who is not driving for Red Bull who did it,’ and I think it would have been something special.

“I did miss it for a very small amount of lap time. Then during the race, we knew we had a good pace with low deg and everything worked out pretty well. I finished fifth, and I think this was our maximum, so I couldn’t be too disappointed.

“When it comes to the Abu Dhabi track, from a driving point of view it’s the kind of track where it’s very easy to lose a lot of lap time, and not really being sure about the reason. There are no really big, challenging corners, because Turn two and Turn three are easily flat with modern cars; there really aren’t high speed corners on the track, it’s all about the medium to low speed corners, with quite a lot of off-camber sections. You tend to focus on rear stability, traction, and low speed mechanical grip. That’s the reason why, once you suffer from instability and lack of rear grip, you tend to lose a lot of lap time without doing any mistakes.

“I would say it is one of my favourite tracks, probably one of the ones which misses a bit of high speed. It’s still a difficult track to find performance and to read the track, and is quite complicated also from a tyre point of view, but that’s the challenge we have to rise up to.”