Robert Kubica has said that comparing racing in Formula One to racing at Le Mans is like comparing athletes who take part in sprint races to marathon runners ahead of his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut.
The Polish driver will be making his first start in the French endurance classic with the Belgian sportscar powerhouse Team WRT.
After contesting 97 Formula One Grands Prix with Sauber, Renault and Williams, he has transitioned away from a full-time F1 role and has instead moved towards sportscar racing.
After spending a season in DTM, he joined Team WRT for a campaign in the European Le Mans Series alongside Louis Deletraz and Yifei Ye.
The trio now forms part of the team’s two car effort for its first start in the twice-around-the-clock enduro.
Speaking to MotorsportWeek.com during the Le Mans Test Day on Sunday, Kubica explained that the longer format of endurance racers is a completely different world compared to the shorter, sprint-race based world of Grand Prix racing.
“Everything is different,” he said. “It’s like comparing sprint race runners to marathons. They don’t even look the same because if you are a sprinter, you need to have a completely different, let’s say mass of body than the marathon.
“In the end it is the same sport, but it’s such a difference, the approach is different. Probably the similar thing is when you drive the car in the end, it takes you trying to extract maximum from the package, but as it is endurance racing, you have to minimize your risks.
“You have to have to think of everything, a lot of things can happen and will happen during the race. We are aware of it and I’m aware of it. So yeah, definitely there is much more differences than similarities.”
With relatively little experience in races longer than the four-hour events in the European Le Mans Series, Kubica remains realistic about the challenges that lie ahead.
“The goal will be first of all to finish the race,” he said. “Second of all, priority will be finishing it without the big issues – technical, sporting or driving.
“I think this makes a key point, first of all, and then we have to focus on ourselves, trying to do our best race, always with the respect of the event, respect of the track, as the challenge is massive, it’s not an easy event. And then we will see.
“The one thing we are lacking and missing for sure is the experience of this event. Relatively we are also young, I’m young in endurance racing. I entered the 24 Hours of Daytona this year, but we had to retire after one and a half hours. So in the end, I never have experienced a full week of 24 hour racing.
“This is for sure something which is completely different to what I’m used to. So as I said, we have to focus on ourselves as much as we can. And then see if we are able to deliver a good work and execute our work correctly.”
“I think I already think this could be a good achievement and then, of course, the final result will be important. But I think the most important thing is to be happy and to be satisfied of your job.”
During his stint racing in F1, which lasted on and off from 2006 to 2019, Kubica says he never had a particular wish to race at Le Mans but did respect the event. It wasn’t until he left F1 and transitioned into a test and reserve role at Alfa Romeo that he started looking at doing the race more seriously.
“To be honest, not for a long time, because in the end, I have been focusing on sprint races,” he replies when asked if he had been looking forward to doing the race.
“And, of course Le Mans attracts a lot of interest and is one of the if not the biggest race, endurance race around the world.
“So I always have a big respect regarding this event, but of course, when you are doing sprint races, or you’re racing in F1, it is not that you are thinking of doing Le Mans.”
“But it is one thing which definitely once I’m not racing anymore in Formula One, it is something which makes a normal way of approaching that you want to do it.”