While some questions remain over Robert Kubica’s physical capabilities in a modern F1 car, fans and media alike seem pretty sold on the idea of his return to the sport and why not? His performances nearly a decade ago are just as impressive now as they were back in the late 2000s.
Robert Kubica – The Ultimate Comeback?
In 2006, it was a baptism of fire for Kubica as he replaced 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve mid-season. Those were big boots to fill despite Villeneuve being off the pace that season. That did not faze the Pole and he soon impressed with a podium finish in only his third race at the Italian Grand Prix.
A string of point scoring finishes in 2007 did nothing to hurt Kubica’s reputation, but a lack of podiums meant that the season would be remembered for the wrong reasons. Who could forget his frightening (peak of 75G) crash in Montreal? After taking one race off as a precaution, he continued to score points consistently for the rest of the season.
The 2008 season marked the true arrival of Kubica racking up seven podiums and finishing fourth in the Drivers’ Championship. If the BMW Sauber’s pace had been consistent in the second half of the season, we may well have seen him challenging for the title. A breakthrough, first and only win came a year after his horrifying accident in Canada. The memorable pitlane incident between Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen left Kubica uncontested out front to take what many believed would be the first of many wins.
Unfortunately, as with many of the front-running teams of previous years, the BMW squad did not fare well after the 2009 regulation changes and subsequent aero simplification. This saw Kubica finish the season with one podium – a second place in Brazil – and only scoring points at five of the 17 rounds that year.
Kubica moved to Renault for the 2010 season after BMW’s withdrawal from F1. Another three podiums over the course of the year compared to teammate, Vitaly Petrov’s best finish of fifth continued to highlight the outstanding talent that is Robert Kubica.
In February 2011, before the F1 season started, the injuries sustained to Kubica’s right forearm after a horrific crash whilst driving in the Ronde di Andora rally in Italy were extensive and halted his F1 career. Kubica battled through his injuries to make a return to racing in a rally car in 2012. The restricted movement of his severely damaged right arm in the very small cockpit space of an F1 car ruled out a return to Formula 1.
After five years of semi-successful rallying (with some guest appearances at Creventic and Renault Sport Trophy races in 2016), it looks like all fingers are finally pointing towards a return to F1 with Williams Racing in 2018. An outing with his old team Renault at the F1 test in Hungary earlier in the season proved frivolous. However, after completing plenty of laps and setting competitive times in the post-season Abu Dhabi test in a 2017 Williams car, it seems the Grove-based outfit might be close to a decision on Kubica’s future. There is no doubting his credentials, but will he be up to the challenge physically and are Williams ready to take the risk? Only time will tell.
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