Remarkable Kubica gets F1 race seat
Robert Kubica will make an extraordinary Formula 1 comeback next season with Williams and says he is not scared by the prospect of returning to the grid after an absence of more than eight years.
Kubica will race in F1 for the first time since the 2010 season finale after being signed to partner George Russell. The
’08 Canadian Grand Prix winner suffered severe injuries to his right arm in a rally crash in early ’11 that stopped him from racing for several years.
Kubica, who now drives “70%” lefthanded, has not raced a single-seater since the last of his 76 grand prix starts. But he has finally landed the Williams seat he had originally targeted for this season before having to settle for a reserve-driver role.
The 33-year-old reckons the rule changes being introduced for the 2019 season are coming at the “perfect” time for his return. The cars will feature new wings, brake ducts and bargeboards as part of a raft of aerodynamic rule changes aimed at making it easier for cars to follow each other closely. “I have quite a lot of experience with racing in F1, so I know what it takes to be a top F1 driver – I’m not scared of it,” said the Pole. “I know that it requires a lot of work and dedication and I’m ready for it.
“It’s a different story when you come testing at the end of the year, comparing to the drivers who know the cars and tyres. In 2019 we all are starting from zero, so I’m not afraid that I have been away for eight years. I know what it takes. If I do my job well, I’m sure everybody will be happy.”
Team doubts understandable
Kubica first returned to competitive action in rallying before making a circuit-racing comeback in the 2016 Mugello 12 Hours GT race. He then completed a successful F1 test with Renault last year in a 2012 car before driving contemporary Renault and Williams machinery in Hungary and Abu Dhabi respectively.
That left him close to sealing a Williams race seat for this season before the team
“THIS DAY SHOWS THAT SOMEHOW NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE”
opted to run former GP2 frontrunner Sergey Sirotkin alongside Lance Stroll, but he has now done enough to prove to Williams he can perform in F1 again.
Kubica said he understood why people had doubts about him. “I see the point – it’s a story which probably nobody has believed,” said Kubica. “The only ones that probably never gave up were myself and the people around me, who I would like to thank. We all knew that it might be something unachievable and this day shows that somehow nothing is impossible.
“From a driving point of view it’s very simple. You just need to wait two months and you will see. If I think I will not be able to drive competitively fast I would not be here. People see my limitations and they ask how it’s possible that I do it. I know that it’s hard to believe but I think Williams has seen it this year and I have seen it for the last 16 or 18 months.
“If I would be a team principal I would also have doubts.”
Sirotkin backer ‘surprised’
Kubica will replace Sergey Sirotkin at Williams. The Russian driver’s backer SMP Racing stated that it chose to split because of Williams’s poor performance and lacked faith that it would be a worthwhile investment next year.
“We were unpleasantly surprised by the team’s performance level at the start of the season,” said SMP Racing chief Boris Rotenberg in a statement.
“And the car’s development rate also turned out to be not high enough. Despite this, Sergey managed a good season in the circumstances, gave 100% and fully accomplished the tasks set in front of him. We are satisfied with his work and are currently evaluating options for his racing career going forward.”
When Kubica was announced as a Williams driver on the eve of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sirotkin said he could not believe he was out of F1 for 2019. “I would strongly hope for [a second season] and it looked like it was the case,” said Sirotkin. “It looked quite obvious it would be the case for quite a while. But it’s F1 – it’s a difficult world. To get success there are many, many different parameters which unfortunately most of the time aren’t up to the performance of the driver.”