Robert Kubica had a wry grin on his face this afternoon when a few of us caught up with him at his press briefing. The Pole has had a couple of weeks to digest the news that his BMW team will not be in F1 next year and this means upheaval and change for him. He knows that it’s a case of what might have been, but he also has to look forwards.
Astonishingly the way he heard about the news was first from an internet site which ran a speculative piece before the announcement and then soon after he got an email telling him the news. Not a phone call, an email. Needless to say he didn’t appear too impressed with this.
There is a terrible irony for Kubica about the way BMW’s demise has come about. He was pushing for the team to throw everything at developing the 2008 car as he felt that they had the chance to win the title and that you never know when that chance may come again. I remember his anger as the season ebbed away from him, the corporate non-racer mentality of the management having decided to focus on 2009 and only developments which had carry-over potential.
“If you see what I said last year, unfortunately the worst scenario happened, ” he said. “Last year I was a bit upset because I felt like we didn’t do the maximum to take our opportunity to fight for the championship because I said it might never happen again. Now, what we know one year later, it’s that BMW with me in the car, at least in the near future, never has a chance to be leading or fighting for the championship. But that’s how it is, that’s racing and the way the sport works. The situation overall is very disappointing, and this decision doesn’t help.”
This year hasn’t been as good as last year in terms of showcasing Kubica’s abilities. He has at times been outperformed by team mate Nick Heidfeld, which wasn’t the case last year. Nevertheless his stock is still pretty high in F1 and he has possibilities for next year such as Williams, Renault and Brawn. I think he probably views them in that order at the moment. But there is time. This is likely to be a season where many driver movements take place, probably the most we’ve seen for many years, especially if Alonso moves to Ferrari.
I’ve posted recently that Williams is starting to look like a team of the future, which is amazing when you think how desperate things got for them in recent years as they struggled to keep up with the free-spending manufacturers.
Renault would dearly love to have Kubica, because he is one of the few really strong drivers potentially available. Bear in mind that they are looking for a new title sponsor to replace ING and any new sponsor is likely to want to know who the drivers will be before signing on the dotted line. Kovalainen and Grosjean, for example, might not stir their blood like Kubica and Grosjean would.
Kubica is not worried for himself, but rather for the mechanics and staff at the team headquarters in Hinwil. Efforts are ongoing to save the team, but it’s being said in Germany that BMW were looking for €65 million for the team, which is a high price when you consider that Honda sold to the team to its management for £1.