SPIELBERG, Austria -- After his latest session behind the wheel for Williams Robert Kubica joked that the strongest feature of the team's problematic FW41 is its livery.
Austria was the latest in Kubica's scheduled appearances in a race weekend's opening practice session. The Pole, who is Williams' reserve driver for 2018, replaced rookie Sergey Sirotkin on Friday morning and completed 38 laps.
Williams has struggled for pace this year and had a car at the bottom of the order in both Friday sessions -- Kubica in FP1 and Lance Stroll in FP2.
In his Friday session which followed FP1, Kubica was asked what he felt was the car's strongest trait. He replied: "Engine. Power unit."
When asked "is that it?" in response, he smiled and said: "You asked for one!? Livery is nice, colours are nice...."
Asked then what he liked about the car itself, not the paint job, he laughed and said: "But it's everything! It's everything. Chassis? It's strong. It's a strong car..."
Williams currently runs Martini's famous colours as part of the title sponsorship deal it signed in 2014, although that is set to come to an end at the conclusion of the current season.
Kubica said there is no magic solution for the team's current performance troubles.
"There is only one thing which is changing performance of the car of three seconds or two seconds per lap; and its name is downforce. If you have more downforce, everything becomes much easier, drivers they drive better, engineers they have more room for setup, the tyres are working better because you switch them on earlier and you have less degradation. There is no medicine maybe for everything, but there is a big medicine which is downforce in an F1 car."
Kubica's last on-track appearance was at the Spanish Grand Prix in early May, meaning the Pole was reluctant to place too much emphasis on a comparison between then and now. Instead, he suggested Williams can expect to fare better on the engine-friendly configuration of the Red Bull Ring.
"I cannot say, because if I say we have done the step [forward], it is a step, then you will write we have done the step. So it is not possible to say it is a step, it's just I think the conditions and the track layout is making our life, or making my life -- I put myself because I drove this morning -- it will give a bit more easier life to our race drivers.
"We are coming from a difficult period, but I think we will be more competitive here than we were one week ago. This is only because of external factors, it's not because of our package. So there is some variation but we see this even with the top teams, but it's more predictable so this gives you more confidence and you are able to minimise losses which we have anyway from different areas in the car."