- In terms of control over the machine and clean driving, Kubica achieved the level of drivers in this characteristic category within a few rounds for years
- Racing is the most team sport in the world, and preparing a racing machine to perform optimally on the track is an art in itself that requires experience
- Dominating the DTM, Audi has a specific lead. Usually Nico Mueller, Robin Frijns and Rene Rast fight for the wins. There are reshuffles at BMW
When, after Sunday’s struggle at the Nurburgring track, the DTM category champion Rene Rast asked Robert Kubica about the course of his race, he shook his head in disbelief and a great deal of sympathy, listening to what the Pole was struggling with on a daily basis. Without going into details. No analyzes. A few sentences were enough to tell an experienced competitor everything. – And you were ninth in qualifying! I was impressed! – said one of the best, most talented specialists in racing in cars with a roof. And it was not a courtesy. These were words of appreciation from a man who ate his teeth in this specific field of law enforcement.
This does not quite overlap with the grumbling of malcontents who, without a knowledge of motorsport, pass sentences about driving our best driver in history. Not only racing. Ignoring all pre-season announcements from both Robert himself and his rivals that the DTM is a specialist category, requiring a lot of patience and understanding. Due to this fact, the rookie’s current results should not arouse surprise or indignation. The truth, however, is much worse.
The truth is that Kubica dealt with challenges that take many months – a year, sometimes two years – for the average, even seasoned driver, such as understanding how the tires work in qualifying and at a distance, Kubica dealt with express pace. When it comes to control of the machine and clean driving, within a few rounds he has reached the level of drivers who have been driving in this characteristic category for years. Meanwhile, his losses in races can be calculated very precisely. The 3 to 6 second pit stop delay (now the norm) is a couple of back positions. Half a second loss on the straights (it is not an art to press the gas – the rest depends on the drivetrain) is about 15 seconds on the race distance. And so on and so forth. On these few purely technical and operational aspects, a loss is built, which instead of in the vicinity of the top six, relegates the driver to the second ten, or even at the end of the field. Where did these problems come from?
This was also communicated from the very beginning. Racing is the most team sport in the world, and preparing a racing machine to perform optimally on the track is an art in itself that requires experience. This cannot be bought. Time cannot be deceived. It is difficult to expect a completely new team, made up of people with no experience in this category, to be able to prepare the entrusted, very complicated and fast car as well as the rivals who have been working here for years or even decades. It’s more of a blindfold.
If you manage to shoot with the settings, the driver has a tool at his disposal to show something. Arouse the admiration of an experienced DTM champion with a ninth position at the start, while in fact now he can afford top positions. When nothing goes wrong with the settings, Kubica reaches the finish line last, with a great loss to the rest of the stake. The mechanics lower their eyes and the engineers scratch their heads. In this sport, at this level, everything is ultimately dictated by the machine that the team prepares. Better, more experienced – better, and worse, without experience – worse. This rule does not only apply to Robert Kubica. It has always been this way, it is and it will always be so.
What are the realities in the ART team preparing the Polish machine? Fans wonder why, for example, pit stops even twice as long as the competition are the norm. If the average DTM team changes tires in 6.5 seconds, why under Kubica’s garage record pit stops last at least nine, and usually over ten seconds? Can’t it be trained? On Sunday, Robert gave me a clear answer to this question, which … basically reflects the general reality of the new band’s functioning in a very high category:
– My wheels are changed by people who have been looking at the monitor for ten years and have never touched the car. We don’t have two or three machines in a team, where there are designated mechanics who form the team to change wheels. With sixteen of them, you can choose the people who are the best at it. Having a private team with one car does not have such comfort and that’s why it looks like that. It’s hard to expect someone who has never really lifted a wheel to change them faster than someone who has been doing it for 20 years – explained Kubica.
The same principle applies to the operation of the entire team, and it is still the tip of the iceberg. Just add the repeatability problems among all drivers in BMW machines that do not have a clear leader. Audi dominates this sport by a definite leader. Usually Nico Mueller, Robin Frijns and Rene Rast fight for the wins. At BMW, yesterday’s winner today may be tangled at the bottom of the pack. Just check the results. Hence – without going into real details – the accusations against the debutant in the debuting team are as much unfounded as unfair or even absurd.
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