By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
After his first F1 test in six years, Robert Kubica has announced that his goal is to return to Formula 1. In an interview with Sky Sports the 32 year old Polish driver spoke of his satisfaction in being able to drive a Formula One car again and declared that he wants to make a full time return to the series.
“For sure it’s kind of a new start for me. I don’t know what it will bring, but definitely it’s a nice feeling to know I can drive an F1 car after such a difficult period and having my limitations.”
Limitations referring to the severe arm injuries he sustained in a February 2011 rally crash which rendered him unable to compete for a time and left him with limited mobility and articulation in his right arm that prohibited him from driving in the tight confines of an open wheel car. Extensive rehabilitation and training led Kubica to return to rally racing, then sports cars, before testing several open wheel cars including a Formula E and a GP3 car ahead of his F1 test with Renault last week.
“To know I can drive the car and I can drive the car on good pace and I can drive the car for an entire grand prix distance is something which makes me happy and proud,” said Kubica.
“Once I have done this test I would like to test more. It doesn’t depend only on my side, but I will keep working and hopefully one day I will have a chance to go forward and step-by-step maybe have [a] proper comeback.”
A proper comeback would be a massively popular move not only for Renault, but for F1 as a whole. Kubica was one of the most highly rated drivers in the sport before his accident. Toto Wolff went on record and said that had Robert been in the 2012 Lotus he would have been World Champion. Fernando Alonso once described Kubica as, “the best of us all.”
A true comeback would be a massive undertaking, but last week was not just a sympathy card from Renault to one of their former drivers, it was a proper test, albeit in older machinery. Kubica more than held his own against team reserve driver Sergey Sirotkin who had been in the car the day before, likely so Renault would have a benchmark for Kubica’s times and feedback. There is a lot of competetion for the second Renault seat alongside Nico Hulkenberg, as we mentioned earlier this week. Jolyon Palmer seems to be on the outs with the team and a laundry list of names have been mentioned as possible replacements; from Sirotkin, to Pierre Gasly, Felipe Nasr, Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, even Fernando Alonso if the bosses at Enstone can convince him to take a gamble.
Kubica therefore has massive competition if he wants to rejoin his former team, but he has another thing too; a genuine shot to return to a sport we all thought he missed his chance with. It would be the feel good story of the silly season if he can pull it off. He has announced his intentions, the ball is back in Renault’s court. If they offer him a second test, especially in one of the newer hybrid cars, it’s game on.