Robert Kubica - the best Polish driver

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Interview with Fernando Rees, Kubica`s friend from track

Robert Kubica likes to drive in any form. In 2005 he won Polish championships in Colin McRae Rally. Several years ago, he admitted in an interview that the driving simulators recomended him his friend from the track, Fernando Rees. One of my blog readers, Paweł "Fabek" Fabisiewicz, managed to made an interview with this driver, who was in several racing series, and during his career, he competed for several years with Robert Kubica, also in one team. Below I present this interview, which treats not only about his relationship with Robert, but also about the differences in driving cars F3 and Le Mans series, and about already mentioned simulators.

I`m sure you know him, but there is more about Fernando Rees:

Paweł "Fabek" Fabisiewicz: Since when you know Robert Kubica? How long you raced with him?
F.R.: "Since we began racing together in racing karts (back in 1998, when I moved from Brazil to Europe to race), Kubica always had one of the best karts in one of the best teams. I know he did not have much money himself, but he always had some people helping him. I never had the best go-kart, and never in the best teams, so I never bothered to compare myself much with Kubica because his go-kart was always much much better than mine. He was always racing in the same level with Rosberg and Hamilton there, with better equipment than most of us."

P.F.: What is your main memory asociatted with Kubica?
F.R.: "One general memory that I have is that Kubica could not admit to losing - never. He would sometimes even lose himself completely, very angry. Sometimes he would become very nervous when not in a winning position, and he would do some silly mistakes because of his temper. With time, he improved a lot on this matter, which early one was a very negative characteristic."

P.F.: Did you have some history together with Robert?
"Yes, many memories. But I'll tell you one, because it is the most important for me: back in 2002, Kubica was driving for Renault in the Formula Renault Championship. I shared the same team with him, but in fact he was Renault and I was not, so he had access to all my data, and I never had a chance to see his data, his car was very different than mine, but I was never allowed to get close to it and investigate it, etc. Many things. So, it was normal that he was faster than me, because I knew that his car was so much better anyway... there's little you can do when you're not one of the "protected ones". But in one race, Monza in 2002, I was always quicker than Kubica, with my shitty car. Always faster, practice after practice. Until... Kubica kept complaining that his car had some problems... and before Qualifying, in the last minutes of the last Practice, he asked me to drive his car and see... and I drove... and I not only beat my own time with my car, but I was more than one second quicker than him. I put his name in P3 in the Standings, and me with my car I stayed in P6. Funny, isn't it? I have pictures of this day, with me driving his car, with my helmet and all that... I can share with you, if you wish. So, Kubica left the racing track, angry, did not speak with anyone, got his things, and said he would not race in Monza... but that did not happen... next morning, he had a fully new car, engine chassis, everything... (no one in Formula Renault could do this, just him). And we were again separated in the garage and all that, and I had no access to anything of his side... and his new car was so much better than the other, and he started among the first 3, and finished in the podium. And I was damn slow."

P.F.: Already in 2000-2003, Kubica was listed among those who are to join the F1?
"I heard for the first time that Kubica (and Hamilton, Rosberg and Piquet Jr) would drive in F1 in 1998. If nothing too strange would happen, these drivers would not have a problem to find back-up to drive in F1."

P.F.: Why Kubica is considered one of the greatest talents in Formula 1 ?
"He is indeed one of the best drivers at the moment. The quality of drivers in F1 (talent) has been lower and lower in the past years, but from time to time some really good drivers appear. Kubica is one of those. I would say that there are only a handful of very talented drivers in F1 at the moment, and among those the best would be Alonso, Kubica and maybe Rosberg."

P.F.: Can you tell, what differences do you see between driving an F3/WSbR cars and Le Mans? Which car is harder to drive? Which gives you the most fun in driving those cars?
F.R.: "I would say that the bigger difference is between "sprint" championships and"endurance" championships. Any single-seaters (from F3 to F1) are "sprint", in the sense that races are relatively short and the drivers have a car of their own - they don't share a car with other drivers. Le Mans is "endurance" - long races, from 6 hours up to 24 hours long, and drivers share the same car with different drivers.
The main difference, therefore, is that while in "sprint" cars you try to adapt a car to your particular style and liking, in "endurance" you must adapt yourself to a car that will not always be ideal for you, because you're sharing it with others. And this applies to many differences: setup, seat position, mirrors position, and other controls. All can be changed a bit, but not to fit you ideally.
So in this case, I would say that a driver becomes more "complete" when he is able to adapt himself to whatever car he finds himself driving. A talented "endurance" driver would have an easy time to adapt himself to different F1 cars, but a F1 driver would not adapt as easily to any Le Mans car. I know this for a fact, because I drove both in "sprint" and "endurance" for many years.
When we from "endurance" see, for example, that Schumacher is having trouble because he cannot adapt to Mercedes car, or that Mercedes is building new cars to fit to Schumacher's style, for us in "endurance" this is very funny, because adapting to different cars is for us a quality of the driver... if you can't drive different cars well, then you're missing something really important in your "talent".
As for "harder" or "easier" to drive... always a car that is not perfectly adjusted for you is harder to drive, doesn't matter in what type of car. And technology also plays a central role in this... some GT cars are much more difficult to drive and to find the limit than F1 cars.

P.F.: I want to ask you about your sim-racing career? How much are they realistic, or you just wanted to play them for fun? You have many records, and good results in different sim-racing leagues.
"The first time I felt that it was really a simulator was the Formula One Grand Prix by Geoff Crammond (Microprose). I was addicted to that, in a good sense. At the time, we didn't have Internet yet, so I would basically have leagues with friends at home, on hot seat mode. Good memories. I followed Geoff Crammond's Grand Prix series until the latest, GP4. Won many leagues, met many friendly people, and introduced me to the online scene. Also races leagues in Nascar Racing 2003 and GTR. I spent some time at this period just playing by myself, online sometimes but not in leagues. Then i got GTR2 and joined the Gamers-Crib league and community - I still join them everyday. Other games I currently play online are GT Legends and GTR Evolution."

P.F.: "Does Real-Time Racing help you to become a better driver? Or do you see it more as a training tool or just a game?
"I believe that simulators, by simulating reality, always help. I used to say this back in the early 2000's, when my friends in low tier racing categories used to mock me about it, saying it didn't help at all. Nowadays they also play these, and I mock them because I knew it all along. Many races in my life I did a better job because I practice on simulators before."

Last 2 questions of this interview - due to permission and will of Fernando Rees is from

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