Kubica: Adjusting to Alfa Romeo downforce harder than achieving P1 test time

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Robert Kubica says adjusting to the increased performance of the Alfa Romeo is tougher than achieving the faster lap time itself.

On Wednesday, the Pole finished P1 on the first day of the second pre-season test having completed a performance run on the C5 Pirelli tyres, the softest compound available.

His time of 1m16.942s is the second quickest seen so far in testing, but commenting afterwards, the new reserve driver at the Swiss team played down its significance.

“It doesn’t really matter a lot, what matters is the feeling in the car,” Kubica said.

“When you lap two or three seconds faster than what you were doing until last week, the feeling in the car is reflecting how good everything in the car is, how the car is performing.

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"We had quite a good day, with quite a few interesting things we can now go through, comparing the data with my feeling. 

“I think it will be a pretty clear outcome and, all in all, it’s never easy the morning session in Day 1 with the track lacking grip, but today the feeling was quite good."

Interestingly, however, Kubica said his first run in the Alfa during the first test was actually better because he could push harder compared to the more evaluatory approach to his running today, testing new parts. 

“Already last week, when I drove for the first half day, the feeling was probably even better because I was trying different things and I had to speed up in order to prepare and go through things for Australia," he said. 

“Normally you are testing a few things only once because it’s important to go through all the things you have and keep the ones that work better. There are some that will need more time to improve before we go to Australia.”

In both of his outings in Barcelona, Kubica's best times were two-to-three seconds faster than his qualifying time for Williams for last year' Spanish Grand Prix.

And the 35-year-old admits adjusting to the cornering speeds he could take was actually the hardest part.

“Sometimes people think the faster you go the more difficult it gets, but I would argue that doing 1m17s this year is not more difficult than doing 1m19s or 1m20s last year,” he said.

“It’s a bit of a different difficulty but the reality is that already last week’s first morning, in the first lap, I had more problem adjusting my brain to the speed.

“I knew the feeling of lapping here but now I was having to deal with a lot more downforce that would allow me to go faster but my brain was saying 'until now this was not possible', so it took a few laps to unlock the real feeling.

“There’s one big friend in the paddock, there are not many friends because this sport is quite tough, but that friend is downforce. Once you have it, it’s a big mate and it’s helping a lot."