Pirelli tire chief Mario Isola believes Robert Kubica had too little time to adapt to the tires. If he had time on his side, the Pole could have showed his true pace. Recently, it had transpired that, finances aside, Sergey Sirotkin made more of an impression on Williams. The Russian was able to extract more pace from the slower tyres than Kubica, who was long considered to be the strong favourite to land the 2018 seat.
After speaking to Kubica, Isola realised that the 33-year old understood the tyres well. All he needed was more track time to be able to showcase his true performance. Mario Isola said, “I believe that Robert is a professional driver with a lot of experience, even if he didn’t drive a Formula 1 car for a long time. But he has the feeling. Obviously I was asking him for some opinions on the tyres and he has a precise idea on the performance, degradation, how to drive and so on.”
Isola also suggested that everyone underestimated Kubica’s lengthy absence and Sirotkin was always going to have the edge. He added: “It is clear that if you take a driver who didn’t drive a Formula 1 car for six or seven years and the Formula 1 car he is driving is completely different to the one he left when he stopped. Because of the downforce, because of the tyres, because of everything – he actually drove our tyres in the beginning of 2011 in the pre-season test in Valencia, so it’s not completely true that he never drove our tyres – he was able to adapt quickly. But you cannot pretend that any driver [in that situation] jumping in a car will be quicker than a driver who was involved in many tests or many races. Give him the time to adapt and to show us the full potential. I believe he is still a very quick driver.”