Posted on February 7, 2011
Why racers take risks and why we love them for it | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

‘Did you never think of stopping Robert (Kubica) from taking part in rallies?’ asked L’Equipe newspaper to Renault team boss Eric Boullier today.

“Not for one second,” replied Boullier, “He could just as easily have been knocked over by a bus. Robert is a racer, he loves cars and he lives for nothing but racing. Competing is his essence. At 14 he slept in a kart factory because he loved racing. From the outset it was agreed among us that Robert would do rallies as well as F1. It was vital for him. His strength comes from that passion. I never thought about the risk. Motor sport is dangerous, but he loves it.”

Photo: Darren Heath


I have found the reaction to Robert Kubica’s accident fascinating and enlightening. There is the team principal above, who understood him and attempts here to justify the decision to let him compete elsewhere, then the rival team bosses who are both appalled by the injury and surprised by Renault’s relaxed attitude to Kubica’s extra curricular activities. There are the fans and media, some of whom castigate him for taking unnecessary risks so close to the start of the season and others who simply feel terribly sorry for him and his plight.

To recap, the latest bulletins from the doctors suggest a horrendous injury to his right arm which caused him to lose a lot of blood and despite some heroics by surgeons, the experts in the field to whom I’ve spoken suggest he may never regain fine motor function in that hand and if so his F1 career is unlikely to continue. Of course there are always miracle comebacks, but that is what will be required here for him to race an F1 car again. Renault disagree and say the doctors are exaggerating and that he will recover within a year.

Kubica was injured in a rally car, when a pole supporting an armco barrier, appears to have pierced the floor of the Skoda he was driving and caused the injury. A freak accident, like the one Frank Williams suffered on the road. A few years ago Kubica walked away from an accident in Montreal which was many times worse in terms of impact energy, but F1 cars are built much more strongly than rally cars.

So why did he do it? Why did he take the risk of losing everything just to satisfy some urge to drive fast? And will this put an end to drivers doing anything but the most safe hobbies in future?

I grew up with a father who was a racing driver. He raced for Team Lotus in the 1960s. If you’ve not lived with it, it’s hard to explain the ‘daredevil gene’ racers have, which forces them to race. It’s a restlessness, a need to challenge oneself. At the margin it’s almost a kind of rage.

I don’t have it, I recognised that early on, but throughout 22 years working in F1 I’ve seen it countless times in the eyes of the racers I’ve encountered. Why else did Valentino Rossi and Kimi Raikkonen do rallies while holding down major roles with leading teams? Why did Jim Clark or Stirling Moss drive every kind of car they could get their hands on?

Juan Manuel Fangio once said, “There are those who keep out of mischief, and there are the adventurers. We racing drivers are adventurers; the more difficult something is, the greater the attraction that comes from it.”

This is the best quote I’ve ever come across to explain why racers race and it also why we love them for it. Nowadays F1 cars are still challenging to drive on the limit, but they are so safe that drivers have become quite matter of fact about the risk in their job.

1970s F1 driver Patrick Depailler used to enjoy hang gliding in his spare time. He had a bad accident and was still recovering from it when he was killed in F1 testing in 1980. No-one would allow an F1 driver today to go hang gliding, but the question is, in this age of ultra professionalism, should drivers be forced to avoid all dangerous sports in their spare time? I think they might after this and a little bit more of that racer spirit will be lost.

This looked set to be a breakthrough year for Renault after two years of struggle. Team owner Gerard Lopez said last summer that he wanted to build the team around Kubica, so should Renault have stopped him taking part in the meaningless rally in Italy which has now put the team’s whole season in jeopardy? Who is going to score 150 plus points for them?

Other team principals I’ve spoken to today say that their drivers would not be able to take part in such activities. Insurance is a big factor. To insure an F1 driver for F1 driving is actually quite cheap now, because the cars are so safe. A team will typically insure a driver against being unavailable to them. So if a driver is unavailable, the insurance company will pay out for his replacement. They may also pay out for his salary.

The driver, on the other hand, will typically insure himself against injury and loss of earnings. The premiums rise significantly the more they take part in dangerous side sports like rallying. Kubica’s manager Daniel Morrelli is a very precise, careful individual and he will no doubt have taken care to ensure that his client was correctly insured.

Bruno Senna is reserve driver and if he has brought money to the team, as has been suggested, that may come with a clause which gives him the drive da facto. If not, Renault may look to someone like Nico Hulkenberg, who will have a clause in his Force India reserve driver contract releasing him if a race seat comes up elsewhere. That is standard. It may be Nick Heidfeld who gets yet another chance.

But one thing’s for sure, Renault will have to look to someone else to drive for them this year.

Why racers take risks and why we love them for it
190 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: James Draper
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 7:24 pm 

    You can’t tell a dog not to run. This is what he does, this is what he is. He will be back sooner than expected!

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Apologies for a reader comment which appeared here – briefly – earlier this evening, which was totally unacceptable. We get so many comments, sometimes one slips through moderation and we will tighten up the moderating process. To anyone who was offended by it, sincere apologies.

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    PaulL Reply:

    Are you referring to the one about God from a prior post which was deleted?

    I gather personal themes are ok to talk about within F1 events, but don’t incocate anything religious within it?

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    Brandon Reply:

    James why not a form of self-moderation? Stupid comments could be erased or hidden by the readers

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    James Allen Reply:

    Would be lovely!

    Eje G Reply:

    You can never take the race out of a race driver. Where is it best for them to “race” in a organized events with marshals and medical staff on stand by et al or privately on secluded forest roads or regular streets in traffic?

    You know they WILL “race” just matter of where and when. Rally events, RoC and karting is just some events that they all tend to be part of, but then you have private races they will do. On the later just look at Nico Rosberg he tweeted showing pictures where he raced against his dad (Keke) this winter and this was in a “private” setting. If a bad accident would happened there I don’t think it might possibly stopped at the possibility of a ruined hand (no marshals or rescue people et all I would guess was on hand in case of a bad incident).

    So, let them race but obviously try to have control over it and ensure it’s as safe and secure as possible, I think it’s better to give them the blessing then have them do it in private or under false names (Kimi Rikkonen anyone? Didn’t he race under the name of James Hunt?).

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    Mark from Canada Reply:

    This debate reminds me of a certain Canadian driver who went, shall we say, ALL OUT. The 1989 book by Gerald Donaldson does him some justice, but many people forget about what Gilles Villeneuve brought to the sport. ALL OUT ALL THE TIME (apologies for the caps but I think the emphasis is warranted).
    I wish Mr. Kubica a full recovery . . . and if he can only make it back to amateur rally races, I’m sure he’ll be happy (although a ride alongside Alonso at Ferrari might have been good, too)!

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    Mark V Reply:

    I have the “High Sensation Seeking” gene James refers to. We can’t just shut it off any easier than you can shut off your hunger or thirst. Even when you’re not doing something dangerous, you’re always looking for something new and engaging. That kind of intensity can lead to trouble; I am also on the long road to recovery from a serious injury due to “misadventure” so I can empathize and wish Robert well on his recovery.

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  2.   2. Posted By: Justin
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 7:34 pm 

    Well written, thought provoking article, as ever.

    Hope Hulkenberg gets to keep the seat warm but no disgrace if it’s Senna. Heidfield DOES NOT deserve another chance – he’s had his go and not converted it into greatness.

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    Tim. Reply:

    Agreed on NICK

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    Anthony Reply:

    Im pretty sure Nick can do a far better job in testing and racing than the inexperienced Hulk or Senna…

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    Rudy Pyatt Reply:

    This

    nickname101 Reply:

    The same can be said about Kubica too, I’m sorry but I’ve gotten pretty sick of hearing what a prodigous talent he is and how he rates amongst the elite of f1 drivers -reality check people, the people that really matter don’t happen to think so, the big teams have conspicuously overlooked him, Brawn overlooked him for Rosberg and a rusty Schumacher, Mclaren overlooked him for Button!,c’mon if he is the sensation that everyone is billing him out to be why has he missed out on thos drives? If he was an truly exceptional he would have commanded a team to force out a driver (with a handsome payout) to create room for Kubica (Button was kicked out for Alonso,Raikkonen was kicked out for Alonso). Kubica may be showing glimpses of brilliance but clearly team bosses are not impressed enough, so why this nausiating mantra about him being a gem?

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    theRoswellite Reply:

    nickname101: …you seem to have missed something…I trust I can speak for a vast number of F1 fans who have been following Mr. Kubica’s career over the years and have found him to be a very compelling

    unoc Reply:

    nickname101, I agree. The change has been pretty much over 2010. by the end of 2009 when Hidfeld and Kubica were about even no one really thoght he was brilliant. Good, yes, brilliant no. Yet, beat a rookie who had done prett much nothing in GP2 and suddenly you’re a top talent.

    Browse the AutoSport forums and youll see people the top talents of F1 as Hamilon Alonso and Kubica!

    Kubica is good, but not great. If you put him in McLaren in a third car I’d dare say he would have been beaten by both this season. Put him in a Ferrari and Alonso would ahve beaten him. Brawn even said he wasn’t after German drivers and wanted to keep Button, so why not a Pole? History tells us Germany is quite keen on Poland – yet for some reason not now.

    Monad Reply:

    Sorry i don’t get this “DOES NOT” deserve thing.
    What you really want to say is “I DO NOT” want him to get the seat.
    By simple logic his the only available driver capable of replacing him. That is of course if they only think about the teams best interest.
    He is as fast as most F1 drivers are. His no Hamilton but he raced against Webber,Kubica,Raikkonen,Massa and he won most of them.
    His a reliable driver that you know he will give you resolds. And if the car is at the same pace with the best then YES he has the ability and experience to fight for the championship. Lets not forget that the guy never had a winning car. Some time ago Webber and Heidfeld were put in similar category. Now just because Webber got into Red Bull and managed to pull a fight his still good and Heidfeld isn’t?

    Also Renault needs an experience driver because they still have testing and development to do and Petrov still needs more experience. They need a guy who knows about tyres and how to give correct information about a car. Only Heidfeld and De la Rosa fit that role and Heidfeld is the faster from the two.
    The guy got into an unknown car last year only for the last few racers and his pace was right there with Kobayashi. Do you remember how well Fisichella did when he tried something similar? And Fisi was racing all the time. Nick wasn’t even racing before he got into the car.

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    Nathan Reply:

    100% agree. Has to be Nick. If the insurance covers everything then they don’t need a pay driver.

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    Andy Carr Reply:

    I was very surprised that The Hulk lost his seat at Williams – A Renault drive could be the perfect opportunity for him, as he really started to blossom in the second half of the season.

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    Dan Reply:

    NH is a capable driver who matched and beat several very good drivers in his carreer – one of those Mr Kubica himself. So from my perspective NH definitely deserves this chance.

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  3.   3. Posted By: Simon Emms
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 7:39 pm 

    Those who feel compelled to push themselves must always be given the encouragement to do so. The reason we’re all united in support for Kubica is because, like with Massa’s injury in 2009, we see the human side of a talented and nice bloke with a life-altering injury. And the fact there are people who will still do this tomorrow means we love them just that little bit more

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  4.   4. Posted By: Ryan
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 7:45 pm 

    James, I find it a little upsetting and shocking that Eric mentions, in several articles I have read, that he hopes for Robert to be back in a car by the Spanish GP. I know this is just positivity, but it is also highly, highly unrealistic and diminishes the true seriousness of this accident.

    Surely, Eric realizes that, at the very least, Robert will never see any competitive seat time in the R31 in calendar year 2011. I do believe that Robert drove his last ever timed laps in the R31, and will have to wait at least until the R32 is raced next year.

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    ian Reply:

    Maybe his boss is trying to help Kubica mentally? Being positive? I’d give him the benefit of the doubt.

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    Richard Bell Reply:

    I’ve read the same, it’s like he’s spoken to a different surgeon or not listened. Maybe it’s too hard for him to take the truth.

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    James Allen Reply:

    I showed all the statements by the surgeon post op to a friend of mine, who is one of his peers in the UK. He has performed similar operations and his analysis is that the injury is very severe and it will be surprising if the hand returns to normal functionality.

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    Ben G Reply:

    Dreadful; poor RK. Mind you, if you had to pick any one of the current grid to bounce back from such an injury, it would be him (and Webbo I ‘spose).

    Nilesh Reply:

    Do you suppose he will recuperate enough to at least compete in other forms of motorsport if not in F1?

    On the bright side, both Kubica and Gerber are lucky that the guard rail didn’t go a foot left or right in which case it would’ve been much worse.

    Bart Reply:

    The latest reports suggest the hand was not damaged that much after all. The biggest concerns now are about Kubica’s forearm and elbow, but the good sign is that he is able to move his fingers. This way or another, it’s just too early to either rule out Kubica’s return to F1 or announce his come back. We have to wait.

    James Allen Reply:

    If you read the surgeon’s report post op and show it to someone working in the same field you will not come to that conclusion

    Davexxx Reply:

    Thanks James as always for your insight on all this. I know ‘miracles can happen’ and we all hope Robert will eventually recover ‘fully’, yet I think it is entirely practical and realistic to face the truth, admitting the most likely scenario.
    I also applaud his boss’s reaction. No matter how ‘contrived’ people might accuse his reaction to be (said with hidden agendas, hidden messages, etc) he like most of us know that Racers are Racers, and will always want to race, no matter how dangerous it might be. It’s why Schumi came back despite his inevitable loss of edge being past his prime. (Oh oh, there’ll be a barrage of ‘Schumi is going to win the championship’ posts now!) ;-)

    kenny5 Reply:

    I am amazed at all the speculation here.

    I will not believe anything in the aftermath of such an event. There is no obligation that the information put in the public domain, even from official sources is accurate.

    For all we know, it may be not much worse than Colin McRea a few years back – remember he crushed his “pinkie” (his words). Apparently, he told the docs that if was to interfere with his title bid – they should amputate it!!

    jose arellano Reply:

    the surgeon said “i had a pacient that recovered 90% of the hand mobility” and says it like it was a huge achievement” i doesnt look good at all

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    Richard C Reply:

    I would love to be a fly on the wall of Renault’s legal department as they consider every drop of ink on their insurance contract!
    Whilst I will bow to what James says about standard F1 insurance being fairly cheap I very much doubt that such terms would include cover for taking part in non F1 racing.

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    Ryan Reply:

    The insurance that Renault would have taken out on Kubica would have included provisions for being injured while rallying, as it was part of his contract that he was allowed to do so. Think about it for a second. How silly would it be for them to not insure that portion? They’d be insane not to. The insurance would have matched his contract.

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  5.   5. Posted By: jose arellano
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 7:50 pm 

    this is soo bad news for F1.. they would add another ingredient to the title fight…i feel very sorry for kubica..

    the only available driver of that quality its Kimi Raikkonen

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    David C Reply:

    Kubica and all elite drivers, including Hamilton, share a passion for driving and competition as well as supreme skill, which, as James has said, is why we love watching them. You may not be a fan of every driver on the F1 grid, but to twist this tragedy as a way to impugn the passion of another competitor is just wrong.

    Returning to Robert Kubica, I wish him a swift and full recovery. It’s terribly sad to think he may miss this season, and it would be tragic if his F1 career is cut short.

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    David C Reply:

    Jose, my apologies. My earlier post was intended for Roger Carballo.

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  6.   6. Posted By: Matt M
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 7:53 pm 

    One of your best reports.

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  7.   7. Posted By: Shane Pinnell
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:02 pm 

    Spot on article as always!

    It is a testament to the engineers and FIA that so few drivers are seriously injured these days.

    I hope Kubica is able to recover and continue pursuing HIS path.

    For everyone that wonders why he would risk his F1 seat to drive a rally car for the pure joy of racing, well… that wonder is probably why you don’t sit in an F1 cockpit. I doubt Kubica gave it a second thought.

    It will be a great loss to F1 if he is unable to race, he was a joy to watch and by all accounts is a genuinely good man.

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  8.   8. Posted By: Brian M
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:07 pm 

    First off, it’s a shame for Kubica.
    However, the comment “He could just as easily have been knocked over by a bus.” is absurd. You’d think Boullier would have some understanding of probability.

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    Karas Reply:

    He’s saying that, because some part of responsibility lies on Renault. We know how drivers are, it’s natural for them to ignore the risk, but when they are doing on their days off something even more dangerous than their main occupation, the team should react. It sounds like treating the driver like a child, I know. But why do we make decisions for our children? For their safety.

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    tomek Reply:

    I do not agree with you to be honest. What happened during this accident was so implausible that it could be compared with getting knocked by a bus.

    I haven’t heard about any other such accident, where a piece of armco penetrated all the way through the engine to the driver’s cabin. If somebody told me that this could happen I doubt I would believe in this. But here we are…

    If such injuries could be a result of “normal” accident in the world of rallying then ok, I would definitely agree with you. In my opinion if something else happened, for example if Kubica skidded off the road and the car fell down many many metres, it wouldn’t be so severe.

    What happened was really highly unfortunate and that’s just what Boullier wanted to communicate

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    ahmed Reply:

    Agree with Tomek, this was such a freak accident, almost impossible for another driver to replicate. Rallying is a dangerous sport without a doubt and probably more than F1 due to the fact its on open roads as opposed to a closed circuit. Saying that, the incidents that normally happen in rallying tend to not be that serious in terms of the safety of the driver. Cars drop several metres and roll over a few times yet people come out without a single scratch.

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    Tom Reply:

    What makes these sports so dangerous are the freak accidents. Accidents that can be easily foreseen can be protected against. Its the chance that an unforeseen occurs which is the issue, and this is much more likely in extreme sports.

    I wish Kubica all the best and I don’t consider it his fault at all, racers require supreme confidence and hunger for speed, I think Renault should be asking questions about why they let him do it though. Im sure the team owners arn’t as laid back as the team principle is!

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    lecho Reply:

    Tell me about implausibility when we’re talking about racing in tuned Fabia on a bumpy road that is hardly wider than a car with your pedal to the metal and speeds like 120km/h. In all of these well wishings for Kubica I still think that what he did was taking an unnecessary risk he should’ve avoided being in a middle of testing, in a season that could proved to be his turning point. As a supporter I of course feel sorry for him and wish him a quick comeback, but on the other hand I am angry about his reckleness.

    You cannot expect from hundreds of people to deliver you a winning car costing millions of pounds and many months of really hard working and then simply let these people down by refusing to hold your competetive horse for just three weeks, as a result competing in third league rallies and possibly wasting your future career. In a real world of real people and real jobs, not sporting celebrities, this is called immaturity or, if you prefer, irresponsibility.

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    kenny5 Reply:

    Regardless of the Kubica factor, I believe that this accident will horrify the rally community – where 10′s of thousands of competitors take part in these events across Europe every year.

    It is shocking how easily the barrier penetrated the car — but it could have come through the windscreen…

    It has implications for road safety as well.. as many road users would bounce off these sort of barriers- albeit with much less energy.
    The barrier should not have failed in this way.

    GP Reply:

    I think you’ll have to explain your theory on probability to Kimi, who has become the DeCesaris of the rally world… The guy keeps walking away from crash after crash.

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  9.   9. Posted By: Chris Bird
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:08 pm 

    As much as I like Bruno Senna, if he is the De Facto replacement, it leaves the team in a real pickle until (if/when) Kubica is back in action. However, if he does get the seat and he steps up his game, this could be the beginning of something special.

    [Reply]

    Marybeth Reply:

    @Chris, I read somewhere, that Eric said the will be looking outside of Renault for a replacement. If Renault wants to go for the championship, they will get Kimi. He is known for his quickness & his ability to adapt without drama & histrionics, just get in, sit down, shut up & drive it to the front. :) Kimi has said that he would want a competitive seat to come back. This seat offers being the first driver, not the 2nd. From what I have read, Renault has worked hard & made a big investment in their car this year & have high expectations; podiums & wins. Kimi can deliver that, & that is the simple truth. :)

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    Bollo Reply:

    I hope it is the beginning of something special. Watching Senna and his team mates trying to drive the diabolical HRT around was very entertaining but it must have been a supremely demoralizing experience.

    If he was under pressure before it will be nothing compared to this year.

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  10.   10. Posted By: Alex
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:08 pm 

    Spot on James. I was amazed at some of the reactions posted on the previous posts about how selfish he was and should be thinking of his fans… Based on that, team principles shouldn’t be allowed to drive hire cars, or drivers fly in helicopters (Nannini) or private jets (DC), or have photographers in the paddock (Montoya…) ;)

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  11.   11. Posted By: Kalim
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:15 pm 

    James, I sure hope that the doctors you spoke to are wrong, and that Robert WILL in fact return to F1 by next year at the latest. In the meantime, I would love to see Nick Heidfeld win a couple of races for LRGP and get that monkey off his back at least.

    As for the drivers taking risks, I sadly think you’ll see far more stringent contracts being enforced and situations like where Robert negotiated rallying into his contract will never again arise. I’m sure though, that you’ll find that the racers among the F1 corps will still find ways to indulge their passions when outside an F1 car. Its just the way it is.

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  12.   12. Posted By: Bobby
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:20 pm 

    The controversy is very interesting. Last week’s Rolex 24 at Daytona was full of moonlighting racing drivers; Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup (premiership) champion Jimmie Johnson (GAINSCO Riley-Chevrolet), reigning Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray (Target-Telmex Riley-BMW), Izod IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, and a plethora of other motorsport champions, along with BBC F1 lead Martin Brundle.

    Some NASCAR drivers were prohibited from racing in the extremely dangerous midget and sprint car classes in their contracts.

    Each professional athlete is warned in their contract certain activities are prohibited. For some reason MLB Texas Rangers pitcher Christopher John Wilson’s contract doesn’t specifically prohibit him from motorsport activities; after the end of the runner-up season, Wilson drove the Safety Car at the start of an ensuing Sprint Cup playoff race, and in December raced in a 25-hour endurance race in California, winning the class where he raced. Similarly, Wilson’s opponent in the World Series, San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim (The Freak) Lincecum participated in skydiving with MotoGP star Dani Pedrosa in a promotional event for Red Bull. Red Bull ofen uses their 2-seat NASCAR Sprint Cup Show Car for promotions where a Red Bull athlete will be taken for a ride to the stadium.

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  13.   13. Posted By: CHITRA CHANDHOK
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:24 pm 

    WITH GREAT CLARITY YOU HAVE EXPLAINED ONE OF LIFE’S MYSTERIOUS HAPPENINGS !! WHY DO HUMANS LOVE COURAGE AND BRAVERY PERSONIFIED BY DANGEROUS SPORTS IS A VALID QUESTION IN MANY MINDS.
    THANKS FOR YOUR INSIGHT.
    SINCERELY CHITRA CHANDHOK

    [Reply]

    Owen Reply:

    Nice to see Karun’s mum chipping in ;)

    Great article James, there haven’t been many outside events I’m aware of, but in the ROC we had Heiki in a crash and I believe another driver flipped a car albeit harmlessly, lets hope they do get to keep some events for the off season after this though.

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  14.   14. Posted By: Aero
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:27 pm 

    I’m hearing conflicting reports. Some say Kubica will not race again :( and some state that he will be back

    Lets hope its the latter

    [Reply]

    Maciej R. Reply:

    Personally I think it’s all speculation at this point. The odds are probably stacked heavily against him, but only time will tell.

    While I am deeply saddened by what has happened I understand why he decided to take part in the rally. RK has racing in his blood, and this is what racers do, whenever and however they can. Take this away from him and he would not be the person we love and admire.

    I’ve seen many spectacular rally crashes and think he was very unlucky to have a hand crushed in such a way (so much for lightning not striking twice)

    [Reply]

    Marybeth Reply:

    @Aero, Even if Robert does not come back to F1, he could come back & race in another series. I read lately that Christian D’Matta is back to racing this year in another series after his run-in with a deer in Milwaukee a few years back…& he had brain damage which Robert does not.

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  15.   15. Posted By: Relativity
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:30 pm 

    I sincerely hope that Robert Kubica gets well soon and gets back into an F1 car. I hope he makes an F1 comeback and wins a world championship. All F1 fans are behind him and I hope he gets a miracle if that is what is needed for him to recover fully.

    The quote from Juan Manuel Fangio sums it all up. Most normal people will not understand the competitive instinct in F1 drivers. F1 drivers are not normal people – they need to push themselves at all costs. Keeping these hyper-competitive drivers from taking risks in their personal lives would be like cutting a birds wings – would you still call it a bird?

    To satisfy the dominant competitve gene in his DNA is why Michael Schumacher is back behind the wheel. He tried motorcycle racing and injured his neck doing it but still he could not keep himself from driving an F1 car when the opportunity came. For a man who has nothing left to prove, why would he put himself in harms way? You cannot control instinct. That is why his return to F1 is a success for him – he can get the buzz and keep the juices of competitiveness flowing.

    Gilles Villeneuve killed himself during qualifying at Zolder. He just had to win at all costs. Would it matter if he did not push as hard at Zolder and was second or third on the starting grid? He may still be alive but he would be very unsatisfied.

    This passion makes all of us F1 fans (and I also watch MotoGP with the same passion) flock to the TV to watch these extraordinary human beings push themselves and their steads to the absolute limit and sometimes beyond.

    [Reply]

    james b Reply:

    great points. Particulary on MSC. All I heard last year was people talking about his legacy. I don’t think MSC gives one thought to his past he just thinks about what satisfies him and nothing gives him the buzz of moulding a team in the pinnacle of motor sport.

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  16.   16. Posted By: Giles Hindle
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:36 pm 

    If he never drives in F1 again, of course he’ll regret it. But I would say he’s been very unlucky here. I’m no expert on rallying, but they normally walk away from a bad crash. Most young men who race simply don’t believe anything will happen to them; especially if you’re a good driver. I shudder to think about the way I used to ride motorbikes in my 20s. I still never fell any fear on track days. It’s like some kind of mental blockage.

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  17.   17. Posted By: Gal
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:41 pm 

    http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/03JhdT284kebc/610x.jpg

    Just look at the picture… How did that barrier brake like that?!

    [Reply]

    Marcus Redivo Reply:

    I have a strong suspicion that there were some bolts missing from the Armco barrier for it to fail like that. Small detail, grave consequences.

    [Reply]

    Bealach na Ba Reply:

    On what evidence can you claim that bolts were missing?

    The barrier was probably designed to cope with cars going at the speed limit on that stretch of road, and not a rally car going much faster.

    The Armco could have been incorrectly installed; it is too early to say. Do not apportion blame without information and let the investigators do their jobs.

    [Reply]

    Aaron95 Reply:

    It’s probably a very old piece of armco, which was corroded and practically useless. This wasn’t a racetrack where each piece of armco is inspected regularly and kept in good repair, it’s just a country road in the middle of nowhere in the Italian countryside.

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: Chris Orr
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:47 pm 

    It has just come back to my mind, that the recent f1 racing, with Ayrton Senna on the cover has an article on Robert Kubica doing rallying in a Renault Clio.

    It was an interesting read, and talks about some of the risks invovled in motorsport but him racing was a requirement of his Renault contract.

    He said that rallying didnt make him a better driver, but a more complete driver.

    Hope Robert recovers well and soon. F1 needs more drivers like him.

    [Reply]


  19.   19. Posted By: Richard Thompson
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:47 pm 

    James,
    Who do you think is the man to replace Kubica?

    Senna deserves a chance i suppose, honda were close to giving him a drive before they pulled out a few years ago..

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: Alistair Fraser
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:55 pm 

    Another exceptional article James. There are some excellent F1 journalists out there, but for my money you are by far and away the best. The articles are not only informative and considered, but truly thought-provoking. Long may you continue to produce this superb blog.

    [Reply]


  21.   21. Posted By: asc
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:59 pm 

    James, one of the best articles I’ve read on your blog!

    @Brian M: Ferrari team is skiing this week. Too risky? But for barrier, Kubica probably wouldn’t be injuried at all, like his pilot.

    [Reply]

    Bart Reply:

    Oh, the irony – for Kubica skiing was forbidden by a contract clause.

    [Reply]

    GP Reply:

    As Kimi well knows since he’s become the Andrea DeCesaris of the Rally world. ;-)

    [Reply]

    Brian M Reply:

    Certainly the chances of being hurt skiing are larger than the chances of getting hit by a bus. If someone is sending Alonso down a black diamond slope, that is irresponsible.

    I can understand the thrill seeking behavior. I just don’t think the added dangers of these activities should be dismissed. If you are mountain biking, dirt biking, racing other series, etc.. you are increasing the risk of getting injured.

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: A.B. Normal
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 8:59 pm 

    Video from the car following Kubica: http://motormediaguide.cwc.tc/2011/02/07/robert-kubicas-crash-at-rally-ronde-di-andora-2011-onboard-video-of-the-following-car/ I can see why a brave driver like Kubica would get a thrill from driving such a demanding and dangerous course. As much as I love F1, it has become the pinnacle of safety and professionalism. This rally is old school. I hope Robert’s recovery is the best possible.

    And even though I doubt Kimi would have any interest in driving for Lotus/Renault, objectively he is the only available driver with the speed and race craft to maximize the potential of the car.

    Excellent article James.

    [Reply]

    MikeW Reply:

    The thing with the following-car video is that it gives a clear idea of how many bits of fence there are that could cause this accident. There seem to be loads of places where there are short pieces of fence, then short gaps, then more fence again… Much of it capable of piercing footwell or windscreen.

    It’s probably a bigger surprise that it hasn’t happened before.

    [Reply]

    GP Reply:

    I guess when these small country roads were built they weren’t with this in mind.

    [Reply]

    Marcus Redivo Reply:

    All true. But, the video shows that the Armco failed in the middle of a stretch. To me, this indicates that the bolts joining two segments were missing.

    When the car pushed the first segment aside, it was impaled on the next segment. This would never have happened with a properly installed and maintained Armco barrier.

    [Reply]

    Born 1950 Reply:

    Armco is designed to be hit from one direction or the other — look at the direction it overlaps next time you go down the motorway. In this situation — single track road — it could be hit from either direction, hence failure was always a possibility if it was hit hard enough; and let’s face it, Robert would have hit it hard enough.

    I don’t think we should jump to any conclusions. By definition Robert was taking risks. It’s what racing drivers do, all the time. They rely on their skill to save them — that’s what thrills them. But it’s gambling and it doesn’t always pay off.

    I wish Robert Kubica the very best. We now need to wait. Only time will tell.


  23.   23. Posted By: Paul H
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:01 pm 

    This is a rehash of the debate caused by Webber’s accidents over they last couple of seasons, but on a much more serious, potentially devastating scale. Risk taking and thrill seeking is essential make up of the persona of an F1 driver. I daresay Kubica would also argue that the rally was a good tool for keeping his senses and skills in peak condition as he prepared for the start of the season. Boullier is right in commenting that simply mishaps in every day life can lead to disaster and where do you draw the line? Kubica always appears to be intelligent, methodical and calculating in both his driving and his interviews, not reckless and ignorant of the risks involved at any time.

    I take part in extreme sports, with friends covering many different disciplines and people often ask why we do x or y. There are two most often used answers, either ‘because it’s fun’ or ‘if you have to ask the question, you won’t understand the answer’.

    I sincerely hope he manages to make a full recovery, however long it takes. Even with a little restriction he would remain a more than capable driver. Best hopes and wishes to him and his family.

    [Reply]


  24.   24. Posted By: Andy C
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:02 pm 

    Excellent view on it James.

    The most important thing for me, and I’m sure for RK is that he makes a recovery from what could very easily have been a fatal accident (thank goodness it was not) – objects entering the driver compartment/cockpit can be absolutely lethal.

    IMHO, what you see here is that having reached F1, there is no logical reason for Robert to be taking part in a rally, other than the fact he loves competing and he is a racer. With all of the risks that go with it.

    I will be absolutely delighted to see him return on to F1, however it is very early to start talking about that now. I had him as my best driver of 2010 by a country mile (http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2010/11/my-top-five-drivers-of-the-season/#comments).

    I think given a great car he would have won the WDC last year. He was absolutely perfect around monaco.

    For now, I will wish him a good and speedy recovery, and good health. The racing comeback, lets talk about that in the months to come.

    F1 driver love competing. JB in Triathalon, Mark Webber on MTBs, previous drivers in all sorts of series.

    For what it is worth (see zero), I would like to see Bruno given a chance for the drive. But that is of very small importance at present.

    Get well soon Robert.

    [Reply]


  25.   25. Posted By: sam w
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:08 pm 

    It was right that Kubica was allowed to do rallying, has no one thought that in the last 2 years (other than Massa) the only F1 drive to suffer serious injury was Webber who fell off a bike… twice… and nobody in their right mind would tell drivers not to ride a bicycle. They can’t be wrapped in cotton wool and be kept in cages between races.

    However, if Kubica has only a 10% chance of returning I think he will, he is that sort of bloke. In the mean time I hope Renault are on the phone to Kimi and Kimi is asking for a sensible amount and can be bothered to race hard.

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: S.J.M
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:09 pm 

    Personally, Id love to see drivers partake in other forms of driving. Gone are the days that you could see an F1 driver in lower formula’s of single seaters, touring cars and rallying or even just turning up for 1 off evens like Le Man 24hs. Other then in F1, its only at events like Goodwood Festival of Speed where we have any chance of seeing a driver outside of the PR driven image that we see on our TV screens or Corperate events.

    So, I think drivers should (if they choose to) race in other events. It might be a case of adding things into contacts to protect their Team, but theres got to be something that works for everyone?

    What happened to Kubica could happen to any driver, in any kind of race. But as its clearly stated on any race ticket, “Motor racing is dangerous”. I hope that teams dont have a kneejerk reaction to whats happened and tightens up even more on what their drivers can do.

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: Nathan Smith
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:18 pm 

    What you say carries a lot of weight James, and it is because of that that it is so upsetting to read. Will be a travesty if he doesnt get to race anymore. Would be a waste of talent on a massive scale, certainly more than any other in my lifetime. I’m feeling a combination of numbness and sadness just now. What a shame.

    [Reply]

    Dave Roberts Reply:

    Nathan,

    Your words are exactly how I feel. I am trying to put a positive spin on it by thinking at least his life is not in danger but it makes a distressing read. Perhaps James you could convey best wishes on behalf of everyone who follow this forum to Robert?

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: deanger
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:21 pm 

    I’m one of the people who raised the issue about Kubica’s driving in this rally. And I fear my point was partially missed, no doubt due to my own lack of clarity.

    I love racing and I love racers. I applaud the spirit. I applaud Kubica and love watching him.

    My point was more about what his driving in a rally meant in relation to his driving in FORMULA-1.

    F1 is meant to be the pinnacle of the sport. It is sold to us as the ultimate expression of auto racing…

    Winning the championship is portrayed as meaning “everything” to the teams and the drivers involved…

    So, if this is to be true, than what am I to think of one of their champions risking his career to participate in an alternate form of auto racing, weeks before his championship quest begins?

    Of course a racer wants to race. Some racers want to race anything and everything all the time. Others focus their energies on one series, one championship.

    Both are racers in my book. I don’t think Alonso is any less of a racer even though he wasn’t driving a rally car this off-season. And i don’t think Kubica is any more of one.

    One can just as easily say “he clearly didn’t want to win F1 as bad a Lewis or he wouldn’t have driven” as they can say “great racers race anytime, all the time”.

    MY POINT WAS MERELY THAT

    I don’t think a team obligating their driver NOT to engage in risky activity takes any of the soul out of racing. Any of the soul one thinks it lacks was lost when F1 turned into a business.

    It is easy to stick with the romantic notions that “racers race”. Personally, I’d love to. So let’s have a real WDC that cuts across multiple series of racing. And let’s see them all participate. THAT would be a WDC.

    Until then. If F1 is sold as the ultimate. And if the fans are told to treat it like the pinnacle of the sport, then I don’t see how questioning a driver’s out-of-season choices is out-of-bounds.

    Or as someone said to me: “Which do you think requires more mettle from a racing driver? Giving in to the urge to race whenever possible, or sacrificing some opportunities to drive so as to have the best chance at winning”

    [Reply]

    GP Reply:

    “Until then. If F1 is sold as the ultimate. And if the fans are told to treat it like the pinnacle of the sport, then I don’t see how questioning a driver’s out-of-season choices is out-of-bounds”

    I would respectfully reply that NASCAR is sold to its fans as THE pinacle of motor racing; Indycar claims that since they race on everything from short ovals, super speedways to road and street courses, theirs is the ultimate series. Interestingly, ALL the top drivers from both championships race in other series.

    Your last paragraph questions the mettle of drivers like Jimmy Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Stewart, Scott Dixon, and Dario Franchitti for racing in other series. And if you go back in time, ALL the F1 drivers of the sixties and seventies raced something else.

    Robert Kubica did it because he’s a driver’s driver. I can easily see him back in F1 AND rallying if science can put him back together properly.

    Right now I wish Adrian Newey were a hand surgeon…

    [Reply]

    Deanger Reply:

    I believe I wrote, on multiple occasions that they ALL have equal mettle.

    This whole discussion of whose a real driver is ludicrous. They all are!

    I’m simply saying that if F1 wants to be held as the championship most worth winning then it isn’t unreasonable for the teams who race in it put restrictions on their judgement.

    Not saying they should. Or shouldn’t. Merely that if you are paid 10 million dollars to be able to perform a job, and you risk your ability to do it, the people who stand to lost millions when you are unable to perform have a right to question your judgement.

    [Reply]


  29.   29. Posted By: Ben G
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:22 pm 

    My grandfather was a racing driver, and was killed in a C-Type not long before he was going to Le Mans. He had young kids and not a great deal of cash (most of it had gone on the cars) but nothing could stop him wanting to race. I guess it was an addiction of sorts.

    So I would never criticise Kubica for wanting to do the rally. But quite why Boullier let him do it after F1 testing has begun and so close to race 1 amazes me. Even a minor injury, such as a small concussion, could throw Renault’s plans out the window for a couple of months.

    As to the vacancy – Eric, mon old ami, if you run out of options, gissa call.

    [Reply]


  30.   30. Posted By: Bill Day
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:23 pm 

    James mentions Moss and Clark; I’ve been thinking about the ’70s when for example Jackie Stewart was criss-crossing the Atlantic (flying commercial!) to divide his time between F1 and CanAm, and that was when he was F1 world champion. That used to be normal behavior, but it wasn’t *only* because racers are racers; it was also to make as much money as possible while the getting was good (Moss talks about that). That makes me admire Kubica even more, since he’s making more money in F1 than he’ll ever need in this lifetime.

    I’m very sad that this happened to Kubica, he always seems like such a fine person and he obviously has (or had?) much further to go in F1. Speaking selfishly, I’ll miss the considerable interest I expected him to bring to the 2011 season.

    Thanks for your fine reporting and commentary as always, James.

    [Reply]


  31.   31. Posted By: irish con
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:25 pm 

    i have to admit i got a love of speed myself. i also think robert will be back this year, he has just got the fighers spirit i love in sportsmen and no nonsense racers personality. i personally think he was best driver in 08 and in 2010

    [Reply]


  32.   32. Posted By: Gene
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:35 pm 

    Maybe it’s just because I was a huge fan of his, but this situation somewhat reminds me of the two sport athelete Bo Jackson. He played in both the NFL and the MLB at the same time. He was a unique talent that enjoyed competetion and could not bear to be limited to only one game that he loved. Sadly, while playing football, he suffered a hip injury that ended that career and caused him to never be the baseball player that he once was. Since then, there haven’t been any two-sport atheletes like him here in the US. I fear that due to this accident, we’ll see the last of off-season ‘adventuring’ allowed like the kind Kubica enjoyed.

    One of my favorite quotes from Bo was: “Baseball is my wife, but Football is my girlfriend.” I wonder if Kubica feels the same way about F1 and rallying respectively?

    [Reply]


  33.   33. Posted By: Chris Crawford
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:36 pm 

    tough one to call. You can see both sides, but who would have thought riding a mountain bike could be so dangerous….

    These guys play a lot of football, and together too, what happens if they break an ankle, worse still, what would happen if your team mate broke your ankle… where do you draw the line?

    I could have an accident tomorrow, so who would cover Saturdays Wedding (Im a wedding photographer)

    Do I not get out of bed?

    Feel terrible for Robert, of course he wishes he could turn back the clock, but that’s life, you can’t not do things, ‘just in case’

    Im going to look on the positive, biggest inspiration if ever you need one is Alex Zanardi, lost both legs and still won a race for BMW….

    [Reply]


  34.   34. Posted By: Chris Crawford
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:37 pm 

    oh yeah and a cracking post James, speaking of which, I thought you were going to write a post over the winter about your Dad’s racing career….

    C

    [Reply]

    Toby Lerone Reply:

    James. can you write a book about your dad’s racing career? Would enough people be interested to make it a publising possibility?

    [Reply]


  35.   35. Posted By: Luc Charlier
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:46 pm 

    James,

    let me say thank you for such a sensible article. As others have said… spot on. I would also like to applaud Mr. Boullier’s statement backing his driver and accepting him as he is.

    [Reply]


  36.   36. Posted By: Peter
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:46 pm 

    I think the problem is that there are less and less no-nonsense, pure racing drivers like Kubica and Raikkonen….these guys are going and taking the essence of F1 with them…..great shame.

    [Reply]


  37.   37. Posted By: Thomas in Australia
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:48 pm 

    Terrible news about R.K. Such a naturally talented guy. I remember reading JA’s article about the mental tests F1 drivers take, and how Robert completely blitzed it.

    [Reply]

    Rich C Reply:

    It would be interesting to compare those previous results with some testing after he recovers.

    [Reply]


  38.   38. Posted By: Robert
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:50 pm 

    Kubica was foolish. He could drive rally cars after he retires from F1. There is only a narrow time frame where he could win WDC; a life long goal of his.

    To think that forbidding a racer from participating in unnecessary extracurricular activities will dimish their sporting nature is absurd. The team principal needed to sit Robert down and explain to him the importance of order of operation – win multiple WDC’s before you retire from F1, then go on to do great things in rally, a motorsport he has great passion for, then become involved in business ventures that involve/revolve around racing.

    Kubica is done. And that is a shame. Guy was a beast in the car, imo the most talented driver in the game. His team principal gave much confidence to Robert, and Robert could’ve done great things even with a marginally slower car (much like his BMW days). This year he had a shot to become WDC.

    [Reply]

    Declan Reply:

    Kubica was not foolish. He undertook an activity as safely as possible. He assessed the full risks and together with his team decided it was worth taking.

    The foolish F1 drivers are the ones you hear about who blatantly drive on public roads at triple the speed limit – who haven’t thought of the full consequences if things go wrong.

    I’m sorry – I found your suggestion of ‘sitting Robert down’ amusing. Life never goes according to plan (certainly mine doesn’t!). Kubica was living out his dream that he pursued since leaving his family home at 14 – which shows how head-strong he really is.

    How many of us can say that we dedicated our lives to chase a dream since the age of 14? I think that is beautiful and I’m not going to judge the guy because to have gotten into F1 has meant that he has made more right decisions than wrong ones (with a healthy dose of talent and luck).

    I hope the story doesn’t end there though. It’s always nice to hear human stories of overcoming adversity to reach the summit. And Kubica has got a long way to go.

    [Reply]

    Robert Reply:

    Who really cares if a F1 driver lets it rip on a public road? Speed limits and restrictions are setup for the public, the majority, as most people can’t drive to save their ass. I think Lewis is fully capable of driving as fast as he thinks is safe. If some dumbass steps out in front of him, Darwin is again proved right.

    Boullier had a job to do – get wins and podium spots. He had 1 driver that was capable of doing just that, Kubica. By not limiting his exposure to risk, he put the team in jeopardy. Sponsors want results and right now the current drivers are a liability in providing results. The difference between the team finishing 3rd in the WCC and 5th is enormous.

    As a person who set his mind at an early age at owning a business and being in control, as a business man, and someone that is quite capable of driving cars very fast, Kubica was foolish. Life is broken down into stages, something I’m sure Kubica became well aware of during his rise through the ranks. To continue to indulge in foolish endeavors displays a lack of forward thinking. Everyone knows that Rally car is a safety hazard, both to the participants and fans. The FIA seems to pay no mind to this, even after multiple incidents point the way to needed change.

    That’s good for you that you look up to Kubica. Does both him and you a lot of good.

    [Reply]


  39.   39. Posted By: SteveK
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:54 pm 

    He wasn’t “risking losing everything.” He was living everything.
    Every one of us take risks every day. Robert Kubica was living the dream and I bet he wouldn’t change a thing even if he had the chance to.
    Even if he never drives an F1 car again, he can say he has – and won.
    Even if he never drives a ralley car again, he can say he has.

    [Reply]


  40.   40. Posted By: Jez Thomas
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:55 pm 

    Another fantastically insightful article, thankyou James. Whilst Boullier may be talking nonsense you’ve got to appreciate where he’s coming from and applaud him for sticking to his guns.

    [Reply]


  41.   41. Posted By: Giuseppe
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 9:59 pm 

    First, best wishes to Kubica. Hopefully the surgeries already taken place and future surgeries all go as well as they can. F1 will miss him this year

    For the time being however, I originally thought Heidfeld should deserve one last chance. However, I think a Hulk-Petrov duo would be great for this team. Both left gp2 at the same time and have everything to prove this year (if Hulk gets the chance). Petrov’s performance last year wasnt aptly judged considering Kubica is an outstanding driver by comparison, but with Hulk alongside, I feel that there will be no excuses for poor performances anymore. This should definitely cause both drivers to push themselves hopefully and make for a great season for Renault. Also, it was simply a shame to see Hulk lose his seat to money…

    [Reply]


  42.   42. Posted By: Gold Loaf
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 10:01 pm 

    Nasty story, but a very good article. Thanks for that.

    A very polite, pleasant driver. Hopefully it helps him now…

    Im not too optimistic about his return to f1. Maybe he is able do some touring car stuff like Nannini and Zanardi did. Time will tell.

    Who should replace him? Heidfeld I think. He tested for Pirelli, raced quite recently and he is experienced driver, with ability to develop this new, raw car. And he wasnt too much slower than Kubica.

    [Reply]


  43.   43. Posted By: DMazz
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 10:01 pm 

    Great article James as usual!
    I do hope hope RK to be back this season, but in my opinion is highly unlikely.
    Kimi would be the best replacement but the chances are minimal…Heidfeld’s time in F1 are long gone and I don’t think Hulkenberg would do much better than Bruno!! I think Renault should give Senna a chance, as last year he couldn’t show anything in that dog of a car.
    Keep up the good work.. the best F1 website!!!

    [Reply]


  44.   44. Posted By: Steve dearsley
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 10:02 pm 

    [mod]
    I wish him the best, but don’t think he’ll be up to the upper echelon of f1 again by the sound of it.

    [Reply]


  45.   45. Posted By: R Martin
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 10:03 pm 

    [mod]

    Desperately sorry for Robert Kubica. I admire his spirit, and know he was fully aware of the risks he was taking, but it was such a freak accident. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery, although I fear we may not see him back in an F1 car.

    Thanks James for yet another insightful piece. I hope this is not another nail in the coffin of racing drivers’ character.

    [Reply]


  46.   46. Posted By: Maks
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 10:06 pm 

    I think you have captured exactly why Kubica is universaly liked.
    He is a racer. As pure as they come.
    I think that only Kimi was similar to him in some ways. Interested only in driving fast and nothing else. What is different about Kubica,that I can’t remember him beeing sarcastic or projecting negative image.
    He even managed to stay cool(ish) when BMW decided to stop development of chmpionship leading car…

    I hate speculation even if it is realistic, so I will go opposit way.
    I felt happy that he can move his fingers and I would stay by Bouliers prognosis. Doctors and press exaggerate. He will be back in that car this year.(Pray to whoever you pray to.)

    On drivers front? I stand by my instinct. Whoever it might be, he will be called Nick and will come from sausage country. (unless there is that clause in Brunos papers).
    By the way.

    How do you rate Senna James? Is he any good.
    He was stuck in grey car whole year and had to concentrate on letting people pass rather than passing. Can he pull it off in Renlaut?

    [Reply]

    David Turnedge Reply:

    I am in two minds about Bruno. Cynical name change? Second in GP2. Marginally equal with fellow rookie in back marking team.

    He deserves his chance at the big time like anyone else.

    F1 drivers make their own luck in gaining a drive; whether it’s money, circumstance, pure talent or something else…

    One thing’s for sure: whoever gets the Lotus Renault seat will have to perform lest their F1 dream fade in the cold light of reality. If it’s Bruno it’ll be a make or break year for him.

    Here’s hoping for a full recovery Kubica!

    [Reply]


  47.   47. Posted By: Peter
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 10:11 pm 

    Why racers take risks? that’s why

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxubS9xkspI&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOL0ZeH6Re0&feature=related

    [Reply]

    Maciej R. Reply:

    Incredible videos. Thanks for sharing these.

    [Reply]


  48.   48. Posted By: Mario
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 10:12 pm 

    Kubica’s own words: “In F1, when I approach a corner I can tell 90% what is going to happen. In rallying when I approach a corner I think what the hell is going to happen next?

    The faster your live goes the greater the risk it’s going to end early, yet the more fun you can extract from it. Most of us are happy to live ordinary lives, but most of us are also reduced to couch potatoes.

    The most dangerous thing I do is surfing. I get massive excitement every time a wave hits me and/or sucks me inside a washing machine like tumble spin (and that’s just from being c**p at surfing).

    There is just no substitute for thrill, no amount of watching others experience it will give you the sensations of doing it yourself.

    I can only admire Renault for allowing Kubica live his dream. Unfortunately the disaster struck. May be they should have insured themselves a bit better against such an event. But then, how do you insure yourself against losing someone like Kubica. There are not many of equal quality around or are already taken, There is just no way to replace him so Renault will have learn to live with it.

    Bad news for some, good news for others. Somebody else will take Kubicas seat – the show must go on, the life must go on. I wish the new lad the best of luck.

    The last but most important from me – I wish Kubica easy recovery and hope he will return to good health.

    [Reply]


  49.   49. Posted By: noahracer
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 10:13 pm 

    I have much new respect for Renault team boss Eric Boullier. He was largely unknown to me previous to this but the man is a racer in his soul.
    Give a thanks for rally drivers. Much has been lost in the sanitary and insular world of F1.

    [Reply]


  50.   50. Posted By: Stefanos
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 10:15 pm 

    James, I am sure that it goes deeper than that. I think it is a trait of being human to always want to make things better, bigger, faster, or to simply be better, bigger, faster. We are just wired in that way. It is what drives progress and this is why we will always admire those who are prepared to take bigger risks to push the envelope of what is possible a little bit further. The great athletes, scientists, explorers, philosophers, or leaders whose names fill the history books. The “adventurers” that Fangio talks about.

    [Reply]


  51.   51. Posted By: john brink
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 10:17 pm 

    Hi James. I saw a u tube clip from the rally car that was behind Kubica. When he gets to the accident you can see that there is a length of arnco barrier that has gone right through the car.Absolutely amazing how he was’nt killed in that accident. Keep up the good work

    [Reply]


  52.   52. Posted By: Galapago555
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 10:39 pm 

    Very nice post, James. It has made me think, and probably I’m changing my mind about this issue.

    I have contradictory feelings re any driver’s extra curricular activities.

    First thing that comes to mind is that if I were the Team owner, and I had invested +100M € on a project where the driver is one of the keystones, I would probably be not too happy with this risky activities. Maybe I would ask my lawyers to introduce some clauses preventing the drivers from driving a rally car, ski diving, scuba diving and all that kind of stuff.

    On the other hand, I fully agree that F1 drivers are a very special kind of people. They probably need to live the way they do – and precisely that’s one of the things that makes them so different.

    Impressive and beautiful words by Fangio:

    “There are those who keep out of mischief, and there are the adventurers. We racing drivers are adventurers; the more difficult something is, the greater the attraction that comes from it.”

    Somehow, it reminds me President JFK’s speech at Rice University in Houston, Texas, 1962, talking about the Space Race:

    “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept,”

    You can’t keep a 1st class driver like Robert calmly sit at home, waiting for the next season to start. We have to assume that.

    Get well soon, Robert. F1 will be worse without you on the grid.

    [Reply]


  53.   53. Posted By: Matthew
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 10:46 pm 

    James –

    Some very interesting thoughts around the dare-devil gene; I watched a programme on downhill skiers (presented by Michael Johnson) not so long ago that explored the same subject.

    I don’t believe that racing drivers should be prevented from pursuing their passions, although one could understand why a business seeking to employ them might take that into consideration before hiring them.

    Today’s F1 is a relatively safe world but my Dad was a racing mechanic in the late fifties and I’ve heard countless tragic tales of him losing, sometimes several, friends on any given weekend. It seems mercifully perverse that modern F1 drivers are far more likely to come to harm away from the track than on it but I think the sentiment remains that these guys are built to go fast and gravitate towards danger.

    The secret to life, Dad’s always told me, is to stay on for as many laps as possible. That’s stayed with me forever and maybe that’s why I’m not a dare-devil.

    What’s really moved me about Robert Kubica’s horrific injury is that F1 might be losing one of its all time greats well before time. I believe there’s a chance that Robert is the most naturally gifted driver on the grid, and I include Alonso, Schumacher and Hamilton in that analysis.

    If you look at all the evidence; his performances last year (not least at the Drivers’ circuits), his almost flawless season, his racing instinct and his raw pace, it’s easy to see why one might start thinking along those lines.

    Then there are more anecdotal pieces: that Robert has scored higher than any other driver in Dr Riccardo Ceccarelli’s mental tests and that when Lewis Hamilton was asked in his maiden season who he feared on the F1 grid, he replied ‘No-one, apart from Robert Kubica’. Maybe the way Robert carries himself adds to this – nothing surprises him – he’s ready to be the best. I even love the way he comes across through the media – his comment last week about it not being a dream of his to drive for Total was pure gold… Alas.

    I understand that not everyone will agree but I have a sinking feeling in my gut, one that fears we could have lost a beautiful chapter in the F1 history book; one that is many times more important than (and I say this as kindly as I can) Jenson Button limping over the finish line to win a Championship off the back of a double-diffuser, or Sebastian Vettel almost binning a Championship through impetuousness, whilst driving a disgustingly dominant car. Robert is the real deal; a potential Senna – I think with Lewis’ self-modelling we can sometimes forget that he’s not the only one sharing some of Ayrton’s traits.

    For all of these reasons and more, I truly hope that the optimistic prognoses for Robert are correct and through his passion, strength and sheer power of ambition, he comes back and is every bit as good as he was just a few days ago. Robert’s manager says he is strong and he’s a Pole after all – they’re built of stern stuff (I know – my Mum’s one), so with the luck of the gods, he will do.

    James – I guess there’s a slight chance that, given your medic friend hasn’t actually seen Robert’s hand, there could be some hope to hold on to. I wouldn’t have thought he should be moving his fingers so soon and I’d hope Eric Boullier wouldn’t be so positive without reason. Well, I hope anyway.

    Here’s to you Robert, we’re all thinking of you, heal quick and true.

    [Reply]


  54.   54. Posted By: John M
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 10:53 pm 

    Mark Webber was recently interviewed by Peter Windsor and talked about his mountain biking accident last season. Peter had a great comment to the effect that Mark Webber isn’t Mark Webber without riding mountain bikes. It’s what he does. It’s part of him. He can’t be Mark Webber F1 driver 24/7/365.

    I think it’s the same with Robert Kubica, and all the F1 drivers. They do what they do because it is who they are. Robert has a passion for racing. Unfortunately, racing is dangerous. I hope Robert has a full recovery and is able to resume his career. But, I would never ask him not to race other cars, because it’s who he is.

    [Reply]


  55.   55. Posted By: ACr
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 11:00 pm 

    I’m sorry, this is really irritating me, but someone has to say this. I’ll take the bullet.

    When you have the responsibility a team leading F1 driver has, ie the sponsors, team, fans, investment, other drivers, etc, this self indulgence has to be managed. And lets be blunt, an F1 driver rallying in his spare time is pure self indulgence. It had nothing to do with his F1 commitments. The only thing above a drivers professional commitment is his (or her) family, not rallying.

    Just because a driver wants to risk everything the team has invested in, are we really saying the driver is can or should force his way? Really? Ruin the work of several hundred people and hundreds of millions in investment? That cant be right, or fair.

    I cannot criticise Kubica for wanting to race everything in sight, of course he wants to, and fair enough, but it is damn poor management to let him.

    Have all the sympathy you like for the man and his sickening injuries (not to mention the poor co driver who witnessed it first hand who one one seems bothered about), and believe me, I do. Have all the admiration you like for his gun-ho adventurous boy’s own hero nature and thoroughly decent personality. Yup, me too. But none of this should have happened, and a lot of people are going to lose out as a result. If I were any stake holder in the Renault outfit, I would be horribly torn between shock and fear for Kubica, and out right anger that he was allowed to take such risks.

    Look, some smart Renault guys have come up with this funky exhaust system, right? And now it is potentially wasted on Petrov. All that clever development, and they may gain nothing from it with out Kubica exploiting it. How do the guys who designed that feel now? What about the rest of the team? Yeah, outwardly they will be doing the old “what matters is Kubica” line, but inside, they must be gutted about their work. If we see Petrov 6th on the grid, where might Kubica have been? What if Hamilton is 5th on the grid, having just fitted a McLaren copy of the Renaults exhausts? Honestly, that is not going to make the team and sponsors fell all that great, is it? None of them are going to say it, but I know they will feel it.

    It would be nice if these high end sports men could live and risk as they please, but in the end they have a responsibility. And more importantly, so do the people who manage them.

    It was self indulgent of Kubica, but deeply weak of Renault to allow it. I mean, has F1 learned nothing what so ever form Webber? And that was just push bikes.

    Oh, and to that first reply, the one about dogs? Er, so your dog bites, its in her nature. You just jet her bite, right? She runs near a road. You just let her, right? No? You control her, you train her, yes? Yeah, thought so. And that’s just a dog. Seems people take better care of their dogs than some team bosses do their drivers…

    Sorry I what I have said upsets any one, but there is a bigger picture here. Yes, I wish Kubica a speedy and comprehensive recovery, and I hope his co driver gets over what must have been a deeply shocking and disturbing accident to witness at first hand. But there is more to it than just that, and from what I have heard and read, people seem to want to gloss over or avoid that in favour of sympathy for Kubica. I absolutly appreciate that, but well, you know…

    Ok, Im done. Lock and load, I’ve had my steak already.

    [Reply]

    David Ryan Reply:

    It’s a fair point, but if you’re in the position of Renault whereby a potential world champion driver is available, but will only sign on the condition he is allowed to take part in rallies as well, what choice would you make? Bear in mind the kind of accident Kubica had – a car hitting the end of an Armco barrier at speed as opposed to the side of it – is as freak an occurrence as the spring striking Massa’s helmet in 2009. Granted, there is a higher risk in rallying compared with Formula One, but consider the number of drivers who pass through the WRC and IRC each year without injury and it illustrates how exceptional this particular crash was. Compared with the hobby of Superbikes which Schumacher indulged in during his retirement, it’s quite safe, albeit with the proviso that no motor sport is truly safe. You are correct in that Renault will feel deflated by the loss of their lead driver, but given where they were in 2009 it would have been worse for them had they not been able to sign him in the first place. It’s a difficult balance to strike and I’m not sure I can blame Renault for taking a chance to secure his services.

    [Reply]

    ACr Reply:

    I appreciate where you are coming from, but two things occur to me:

    1) Accidents are freaks by their vary nature. But the more you risk, the more likely they will happen. That’s why those insurance policies restrict drivers. Especially when the risk is not connected with the drivers primary job. On top of that, F1 safety standards are clearly superior to what ever safety was in place at that rally.

    2) I don’t remember the exact situation at the time, but I’m not sure Kubica really had a better option and if he is not committed enough to accept personal compromise for the sake of his sponsors, employers and fans, then is he really what you want? My guess is that had it been a sticking point he would have accepted it. On top of that, didn’t James say that teams like McLaren ban this sort of thing? Presumably so do the other big teams. So, are we saying Kubica would have gone down a level to ensure his rallying hobby? Again, if so, then that cant reflect well on him.

    No, if it came to it, I *believe* Renault could have restricted him, and he would have accepted it. He would not have gotten this freedom at a better team, and we cant believe he would have down graded.

    [Reply]


  56.   56. Posted By: Wingers
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 11:02 pm 

    Here is a frightening picture of the rear of Kubica’s Rally Car. http://img715.imageshack.us/i/kubica3.png/

    It is literally a matter of a few mm’s from the subject of this post being gravely different. Its not even a testament to how ‘safe’ motorsport has become, its an absolute freak accident, with an even more freakish outcome! Its amazing that in how many years of WRC this kind of accident has not occurred more frequently, as steel road barriers quite regularly penetrate passenger vehicles on highways around the world.

    Robert all the best, what a survivor you are, I sincerely hope that a miracle comes your way and you continue doing what you do best!
    Must add its been very nice to read all the Drivers/Riders (motogp) from Stateside to Australia Tweeting for a speedy recovery.

    For now, while Kubica is on the mend… Senna makes sense, to see what he can do in a better car, but it was very surprising to see how Klien really came in with no testing time etc. and was at times upwards of 0.5 of a second faster off the bat… Senna must have been frustrated with HRT, but to me his commitment waned, which could lead to his ultimate downfall considering what Reno said, as Hulkenberg with great management, and definite skills and hunger, will surely be a potential. Surely the money Senna has brought to Reno anyways is based on him already being a Reserve Driver??

    [Reply]

    seifenkistler Reply:

    Being a volunteer firefighter and having to do cut people out of cars more than once:

    The main risc at rally is: they use normal roads. And normal roads are designed that cars drive on the right site in central europe.

    Steel barriers have 2 ends. One which a car would hit if driving normally and one which a car would hit when driving the opposite direction— which happens on our countryroads mainly at a riscy overtaking or at a rally. At a rally you have the road for you allone and can drive the ‘opposite direction’.

    Are there any pictures showing which end of the barrier Kubica was hitting? The picture above looks he hit left site barrier, so opposite direction as designed.

    Sorry for my bad english, never had it at school. Even i can order food and lunch i do hard as soon it is about technical details.

    [Reply]

    Mario Reply:

    A comp animation has been made. Have a look at this.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YE8GUwybi5k&feature=youtu.be

    [Reply]

    Regis Reply:

    Wow what a scary picture, i didn’t realise the whole car had been punctured.

    [Reply]

    seifenkistler Reply:

    Thanks, i was wondering how it could happen. Luckily i never was called to an accident like this. But i saw picture at firefighting teachings of cars first breaking through the barrier and then being pierced by it.

    Link to a similiar accident, sadly with deadly result:
    http://www.chiemgau24.de/bayern/toedlicher-unfall-haar-leitplanke-durchbohrt-mercedes-rosenheim24-819659.html

    7 Fotos showing the barrier pierced through the whole car.

    90% of this type of barrier piercing seem to by caused by cars out of control when hitting the barrier, so not a small angle but a rather big angle of impact.

    Toi toi toi to Kubica.

    [Reply]


  57.   57. Posted By: Oliver N.
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 11:17 pm 

    Life is about measured risk.

    Crossing the road is statistically more dangerous than not crossing the road. You make a probability decision consciously, or more likely unconsciously, every time you do anything.

    Rallying is on the face of it, inherently dangerous, but lets not forget that Mark Webber pretty much threw away half a season after a mountain bike crash, Allesandro Naninni ended his career in a helicopter crash.

    You could make an argument that Kubica is one of the hottest talents in F1 for years, BECAUSE, he is a racer. If he wasn’t that kind of guy, he wouldn’t be that good. All credit to Renault for accepting that.

    [Reply]


  58.   58. Posted By: David Ryan
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 11:30 pm 

    Very well written article as always James, and reiterating a very important point about the nature of racing drivers – they are by definition risk-takers, or else they would not do the job and follow their passion. It’s easy to forget how dangerous motor racing actually is even with advances in safety (and let’s not forget, the Skoda Fabia S2000 is a very tough car – it’s just that Armco is tougher), and to take cars to the absolute limit with such regularity takes quite some courage and singlemindedness. Some drivers have it more than others, and Kubica’s approach reminds me very much of accounts of Gilles Villeneuve (who sadly I never saw race) – he could very easily choose not to go rallying and to sit at home or train, but it goes against his nature to do so. I respect that, and while I personally would not choose to go rallying in his position I can nonetheless understand why he did so. It is only sad that in this instance it may well have put his F1 career in jeopardy, and while I share the optimism of fellow fans and Renault that he will be back the reports from the doctors are not the most reassuring. Nevertheless, if he is forced to quit he can at least say he did so doing what he loved, and I think all of us would be content if we could claim likewise. In the meantime, I continue to wish him well and hope he does recover fully.

    [Reply]


  59.   59. Posted By: Phill
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 11:31 pm 

    James, what are the chances Kimi could take the seat? Are there any rumours about this? Would love to see him back, shame about the circumstances though… Get well soon Rob!

    [Reply]

    Timo Reply:

    Please read the views of F1 veteran journalist Adam Cooper on this.

    http://formula-one.speedtv.com/article/f1-will-raikkonen-replace-robert-kubica/

    [Reply]

    Miha Reply:

    I agree with Cooper. It might come down to one thing: If Kimi want’s to do it (and how much money he wants).

    I’m a big Kimi fan, but I’m not sure I want to see him back. If he can perform and possibly fight for the championship, than absolutely yes, if not, he better stays where he is…

    [Reply]


  60.   60. Posted By: james b
        Date: February 7th, 2011 @ 11:44 pm 

    Great article. Lets hope for a positive recovery and the sight of Kubica man handling a car around the streets of monte-carlo again.

    [Reply]


  61.   61. Posted By: Rob
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 12:09 am 

    I’d like to echo the comments of many here and congratulate you on the article James and hope for Kubica’s speedy return for his life in general not just his F1 carrer. I also think that Renault’s approach should be admired not criticised. Kubica is a pure racer and they love that and support it. Last year he looked happier then ever.

    As for replacement drivers – I’d like tO see Kimi racing in F1 again and Renault may be a good fit. If not Hulkenberg is a better bet than Senna as is Klein, but for a totally out there option, what about Fisi? Ex-Renault driver, former race winner…

    [Reply]


  62.   62. Posted By: Chris E
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 12:20 am 

    Good article. I liked the reports of Briatore’s visit to Kubica. The talk was solely of his return and rehabilitation, not of the accident. Perhaps this also provides an insight to the racer’s mentality? Whilst us drones are discussing why he was rallying, the racer Kubica is already only looking forward to the future challenges and working towards resuming racing. Anyway, I hope he can make it back, F1 can’t afford to lose talent like Kubica.

    [Reply]


  63.   63. Posted By: Vic
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 12:38 am 

    I hope Senna gets a chance, i’m dissapointed at people writing him off so early, it’s not as if he had the best car last season. Give him a few races, if he doesnt do well, replace him.

    Vic

    [Reply]


  64.   64. Posted By: fausta
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 2:57 am 

    I wish Robert the best. It is a darn shame he is potentially out the whole year or forever.
    Let us hope this is not the case.
    Kelly

    [Reply]


  65.   65. Posted By: unoc
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 3:53 am 

    To all who say ‘F1 drivers shouldn’t beallowed to do anything dangerous/not within 5 weeks of the start of the season!’, that leaves only a small gap to drive elsewhere, and it used to be that the drivers also drove in other races, infact Jim Clark did many races and was very good and moving between different types of cars I have read.

    Surely Senna has a clause, and beyond that Lotus and Renault would love to atleast stick a big golden SENNA on the car for a race or two.

    James (if you see this), what do you think the chances are of having say Senna race during the flyaways and then either swapping him out (performance clause) or not based on that afterwards? Would that be the kind of clause you would have in the contract or would it just be a single.. let me race dammit!!!!1!

    [Reply]


  66.   66. Posted By: TrueAussieGrit
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 4:19 am 

    Does anyone know how RK was placed in the Rally prior to the crash? Is he in it to win it? or just making up places?

    [Reply]


  67.   67. Posted By: Thomas in Australia
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 4:21 am 

    There are some pretty positive reports starting to filter out now. Briatore says RK is in good spirits. He has also been able to move his fingers.

    If he can make it back during 2011 that will a very special moment and something everyone will be cheering for.

    [Reply]


  68.   68. Posted By: Nando
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 4:23 am 

    Get well soon Kubica, a true racer.

    Would like to see a return to the days where the world championship didn’t just include formula 1 events.

    [Reply]


  69.   69. Posted By: Damien (aka Frenchie)
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 4:39 am 

    Great article. Thanks James.

    [Reply]


  70.   70. Posted By: Adam Tate
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 6:25 am 

    I love that Kubica was doing rallies, I’m so upset that he has been hurt though. After his horrible accident in Canada in 07 he shouldn’t have to suffer another bad crash. I hope he makes a full recovery and returns to winning ways in F1.

    As far as the question if F1 drivers should be allowed to pursue other dangerous sports, I say that yes they should. Kimi going rallying, Kubica rallying, racers from other series branching out to Le Mans and Grand Am racing, to me it is a good thing. To stop them from doing so is putting a limitation on their freedom, something they have given up much of just to get to F1 in the first place. Don’t take the rest of it away from them. After terrible accidents it is commonplace for the public to shy away from dangerous and challenging pursuits, this is what has given rise to the overbearing nanny state we live in today. But if we deny ourselves that which we desire because of possible negative consequences we deny ourselves the joy of life. And doing that is the gravest mistake of all.

    “All we have to fear, is fear itself.”

    [Reply]


  71.   71. Posted By: Deanger
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 7:31 am 

    1. A driver should be free to race in any race he can.

    2. A team should be able to limit what a driver does. If they so choose. They need to do what is best for them.

    Is that really so hard to understand?

    Questioning his judgement isn’t questioning the nature of racing. Or race car drivers.

    It is an open question as to how loyal a driver is to their team. And it is a question as to whether or not, when a driver risks their ability to perform for that team, they are being any less loyal.

    Is it a team sport where the championship of the team matters? Is it an individual sport…etc.

    For those of you who think this is an attack on racers and racing, pause for one moment. It is not. It is simply a chance to explore where you as a fan think you’d fall on the spectrum if you were driving.

    [Reply]


  72.   72. Posted By: Paddy
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 7:42 am 

    Hey he is alive so I’m happy for that. Anyone who takes part in extreme sports this can happen to, so there is no reason blame anyone. I hope they do not take away the extreme racing spirit from drivers as there title suggests they are that drivers, some a lot more than others. It will take away from the sport and I really don’t won’t to see more bubble wrapped drivers in the sport. It is also great to hear about what else people do other than there day job. So good on him for giving another challenge a go.

    I know I get pretty bored of some of the drivers we have in the paddock ie. Lewis, Rosberg and Vettel. As all they have done is race cars since they where 5 and won heaps of races. I don’t think they have thought about anything other than F1. They don’t even really understand how hard it is to get into F1. Let alone give some insight or a clue to there fans.

    On another note Bruno Senna should get the drive. Sure he didn’t really do much last year. But he developed more as a driver than HRT developed the car. It would be pretty awesome again seeing a Senna in a Lotus in F1.

    [Reply]


  73.   73. Posted By: Sammy
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 8:08 am 

    I’ve seen Michael Schumacher karting at Genk (Belgium) for two consecutive years in a row.

    He was racing amongst amateurs just for fun.
    This is also a hobby which keeps him fit and gives him the feeling but… to me it seems very risky to drive with non-professionals.
    It’s like, hey I’m karting with MS, lets see if I can compete with him… and then someone lands on top of his kart or something…

    [Reply]


  74.   74. Posted By: seifenkistler
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 8:53 am 

    In my youth i was driving gravity racers (Seifenkiste is the german word, and the reason for my choosen nick).

    My hero was Steffen Bellof, born and living just 20 kilometres away. I was refusing to wash my hand for 3 days because it was the hand Bellof was shaking when he congratulated for my 3rd place at a gravity car race.

    And i remember all the discussions when he died: Why was he doing this long distance driving, when he was looking like the coming formula1 champion. He would just have needed a better car. But fighting from 20 to 3 in an outclassed Tyrell(?) and one time from 21 to 4…

    Look at this race of champions and how many accidents it had. Sometimes i think the super-safe formula1 cars make drivers loose respect for the slower and less spectacular racing classes but which have a way lower savety.

    Perhaps there can be some good into Kubica’s accident: doing kevlar mats around the driver cell to prevent piercing damage at rallye cars?

    [Reply]


  75.   75. Posted By: part time viewer
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 9:01 am 

    I know of atleast one driver who drives in the lemans series in a LMP2 with only one hand, and hes not bad, he has a special steering wheel that clips to his arm.
    So if he wants to race in F1 again, im sure it will be possable with an impaired hand, but remember he also has some other injuries they may be more of a problem.
    Either way i hope to see him doing what he loves again

    [Reply]


  76.   76. Posted By: Grabyrdy
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 9:07 am 

    We’re all going to miss RK, that’s for sure, and there’s no like-for-like replacement out there. For the development and the racing, quick Nick is the obvious choice. Whether he can push the team as much as Robert would have is less obvious, but perhaps he might grab the chance.

    The Hulk is quick and very intelligent – it’s a crying shame he has no seat this year. Only second year is a bit soon, but he’s such a smart guy, maybe.

    The only other possibility I see is Glock – underestimated and another smart guy. Can’t see anyone else at all – certainly not Senna, on what we’ve seen so far.

    [Reply]


  77.   77. Posted By: NigelF
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 9:22 am 

    Good article. Drivers are a different breed. The modern day gladiator or matador.

    Its something rarely appreciated by the mass media which is a shame.

    When I saw Ricardo Zonta have a ‘massive’ crash at the top of Eau Rouge in 1999 the crowd I was in all thought it would be serious. When he climbed out of the wreck and raised his arms to the crowd I knew at that moment, these men are a bit special.

    [Reply]


  78.   78. Posted By: FrankF1
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 9:24 am 

    All very well. But at this time of the pre-season, drivers should be testing, not hairing around the countryside. The extent of the testing restriction is the direct cause of these circumstances. Obviously, at different times in the off-season, drivers will do whatever gives them the buzz they are looking for (and that’s fair enough) but an accident at that point gives the team time to recover – somewhat.

    Now, another under-prepared driver (yes, I know they have simulators but that wasn’t enough for RK was it?) has to jump in the Renault without enough time to do the car, or himself, or the viewers, justice.

    [Reply]


  79.   79. Posted By: Tony
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 9:42 am 

    Hope that Quick Nick gets to drive the new Lotus as his experience in development will help the team. Having said that Senna presents an opportunity for the team to placate the sponsors if he races, this may not be so risky as some think. Don’t forget that Damon Hill was muddling round in a Brabham for a season before being given the Williams drive in 93, in 94 he was a title contender. So never judge a driver by one season in an underfunded car.
    On the subject of drivers extra mural activities, how does JB get away with those long tri-athlons, if f I was team owner I’d have kittens at the thought of my driver swimming for miles sometimes in the sea.
    Hope RK gets well enough to sit in an F1 car again, my guess is that whatever happens he will be behind of something quick smiling as he approaches a tight corner soon.

    [Reply]

    Grabyrdy Reply:

    What do you mean, new Lotus ?

    [Reply]


  80.   80. Posted By: Nico
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 10:26 am 

    James unfortunately as you know well the Garagista days are over and when you have multi-nationals playing a large part in decision making processes in F1 teams it’s clear that the drivers will be pressured to spend their time wrapped in cotton wool.

    However it goes completely against the grain with drivers like your old man, or the Kubica’s of this world. It would be a great disappointment to see Webber forced to drop his extreme sports, or Kubica his rallying.

    I think to an extent Boullier is playing to the press, and defending his driver, but it is still very refreshing to me to hear such comments. Drivers are so safe these days that teams are hiring no-names and aged test driver reserves, and are totally unprepared for when their drivers are injured (demonstrated by Ferrari in the second half of 2009).

    As somewhat of a romantic fan, I would love to see Alonso on a Ducati, or Kimi split his year between Renault and a Citroen. As a realist, it won’t happen. :(

    [Reply]


  81.   81. Posted By: Born 1950
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 10:27 am 

    Racing drivers want to drive. But, with the reduced testing, F1 now allows them so little actual track time, so it’s inevitable they’ll take part in other forms of motor sport.

    Maybe more testing should be allowed — let’s face it simulators can only simulate certain aspects of driving.

    [Reply]

    Grabyrdy Reply:

    Hear hear for the testing !

    [Reply]


  82.   82. Posted By: Just A Bloke (Martin)
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 10:59 am 

    Another great article.

    Personally I wholly support RK for having the balls to do what he loved to do and not become a corporate clone. Reading about how he would stay late in factories etc. he seemed a true petrol-head as well as a racer. Saying he could not race would not work in my view.

    I would love to think he could come back and race at the highest level and I am sure that is his goal. I have no doubt he will have access to the best rehab facilities and this will give him a fighting chance of a comeback.

    These are life changing moments and whilst it might appear that one avenue is closing another might open up. Look at Alex Zanardi.

    Until there is more definitive news, good luck Robert I truly hope to see you back in F1 kicking butt.

    As to a sub, Senna did not impress in the HRT I don’t think he dominated his team mates in the same way that Alonso did in the Minardi, but Kimi? Really….I don’t see that happening. Contracts aside, of the juniors Hulk seems the obvious choice with Hedifeld if you want to go for experience.

    Maybe, just maybe, Petrov will rise to the challenge and with some support from the team and less pressure from a no.1 team mate he can lead the team.

    [Reply]

    Just A Bloke (Martin) Reply:

    Sorry my first sentence is jibberish !

    As ever another great article was the general aim of the intro !
    oops

    [Reply]

    Grabyrdy Reply:

    Makes perfect sense to me mate.

    [Reply]


  83.   83. Posted By: Rafael
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 11:32 am 

    There are some people complaining that his team may loose money because of his immature decision to participate in rally. I am pretty sure that Formula 1 today is not only about winning but also about making headlines. And Kubica is today on headlines of all sport magazines. Who cares now about new McLaren bolid? If Renault have good PR people they can build a legend around RK. And legend is really something. Do you think that Hamilton, Vettel or Button are a legend?

    [Reply]


  84.   84. Posted By: Shankar Arumugham
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 11:40 am 

    Kubica is able to move his fingers.

    http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/07022011/58/kubica-moving-fingers.html

    That is good news!

    [Reply]


  85.   85. Posted By: Martin B
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 11:56 am 

    “Not for one second,” replied Boullier, “He could just as easily have been knocked over by a bus.”

    I don’t really buy this argument from Boullier. It’s about the risk element involved. Yes, he could have been knocked over by a bus, but by going rallying surely you are increasing the chance of injury when comparing it to the chances of being run over by a bus. So making comments like this for me disregard the degree of risk involved in an activity.

    Having said that, I should be clear that I totally support Kubica doing what he did. He loves doing it, so let him do it. I go bungee jumping because I love it.

    [Reply]


  86.   86. Posted By: Just A Bloke (Martin)
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 12:05 pm 

    Some of the comments talk about building a team around one individual. On a wider note James do you have any insight about how the teams manage risk within their own operations, for example having key members of the design team on different planes or in different cars? Stopping senior designers racing historic cars (Red Bull)……

    The organisation I work for has identified driving as the highest risk activity our staff routinely do….

    And we work offshore, in the nuclear sector,on process plants and on the rail infrastructure.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Not a great deal of that is done, as far as I can tell..

    [Reply]

    MikeW Reply:

    It often astounds me just how much of the F1 fraternity – and their cars – can often be found travelling on the same plane.

    It isn’t really a surprise – in the cost-cutting era, many teams will lump a lot of staff on an Easyjet flight.

    And of course, in the fly-away series, the cars are toted around on a Bernie-organised jumbo.

    In either case, a single accident is going to have a profound effect.

    [Reply]


  87.   87. Posted By: For Sure
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 12:16 pm 

    As Sammy mentioned in his post, even karting is dangerous. I compete in KF2, I heard someone’s bone came out of his racing suit when he had the accident.
    And I just read the news of the great blues player, Gary Moore who just passed away.
    The point is that anything can happen so why would you prevent racers from racing.
    And Kimi has been doing it for a while, nothing happened to him.

    [Reply]


  88.   88. Posted By: Mr Anderson
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 12:50 pm 

    Its such a huge shame that RK has suffered this accident. That said, I think its refreshing that Renault were happy for him to race in the Rally. Had they stopped him from taking additional risks, maybe that would have resulted in him being less fulfilled as a person, and therefore a little slower in F1?
    I really hope he makes a full recovery and is able to race in F1 again, but my interpretation of the tone of the articles on JAonF1 and the media in general is that this is 50/50 at best. Lets hope he gets lucky, and that the miracle happens.

    [Reply]


  89.   89. Posted By: angie
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 1:23 pm 

    Nick Heidfeld.

    [Reply]

    asc Reply:

    To the rhythm of “Duck Sauce – Barbra Streisand”? ;-)

    Yeah, he’s probably the best choice. Kimi is unreachable I think.

    [Reply]

    angie Reply:

    Ha! Yes. I felt it was important to get straight to the point!

    [Reply]


  90.   90. Posted By: Isotope9
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 1:37 pm 

    Anyone who has ever taken a car out on a track and driven it in anger (even at something as insignificant as a local track day) will realize why professional drivers take the risk.

    I know that in my life, getting back on the track has been an almost all-consuming passion…all other hobbies I had before my first track day are distant memories.

    If I were rich, young and single, I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing with my spare time than being out on a race track somewhere, pushing myself and the car.

    [Reply]


  91.   91. Posted By: Thebe
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 1:57 pm 

    Thank you James for an excellent article, we often overlook the type of people F1 drivers are, the nature of their work. It takes a certain type of individual to be in F1, some people just see F1 drivers as speed junkies but the reality is I believe there is a whole lot more to it. F1 is a very dangerous sport, yes the cars have become very safe to drive compared to the previous years but there is still an element of danger and yet the drivers are able to go on racing year after year. One cannot call what happened to Robert reckless or careless, it is part of his nature to participate in those kinds of hobbies, these guys enjoy being on the limit, competing in these kinds of sport. As for whether he will be able to race again I am sure he will have a speedy recovery and he will carry on racing he is an F1 driver afterall, besides the hand I would imagine the guy is still fit.

    [Reply]


  92.   92. Posted By: Neville
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 3:07 pm 

    Great article again ! Your blog is by far the best source of info on F1 related themes.
    I understand James that your opinion on Kubica’s chances of return to F1 are based on expert opinion. However, I have read other specialists opinions ( surgergeons who have operated with success completely deatached hands and other body parts) that it far too early to make such definitive statements. A lot depends on the patient himself. Who he is, an athlete or an average Joe. His attitude, body-mind connection can make a great difference in prognosis. I personally do feel that Robert will race in F1 again. I am also very impressed by the reaction from the F1 world. Alonso has spent hours in the clinic during Robert OP ( so much for the “No friends in F1 theory”. Good uncle Briatore has visited him and gave him hope. Lauda supports him ( laudly). So many voices of encouragement, it is really touching. And two more points: I would not rush to commending Robert’s replacement yet. He is still in intesive care. Second : where are the words of wisdom from Mr. Ecclestone ?

    [Reply]


  93.   93. Posted By: Mark Crooks
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 4:19 pm 

    James

    Off topic but I’d be very interested to read a detailed technical article explaining the differences between a push rod and pull rod suspension. And why a number of the teams have opted for a pull rod suspension this year.

    [Reply]


  94.   94. Posted By: StephenAcworth
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 4:57 pm 

    Racers are racers and love the exhilaration of speed. Perhaps this is one of the lesser considered effects of the restrictions of testing in F1. If drivers had more car time, then perhaps those who love competing and driving fast machines would not do other things to satisfy their passion. I admire Renault for supporting RK in his desire to compete and think both should be applauded. It is a shame that this accident has happened, but, as always, we should never forget, motor racing in all its forms is dangerous. I hope we get a return to more on track testing and also hope that racers continue to race…
    Biggest hope of all though is for a safe and speedy FULL recovery for RK; my thoughts are with him!

    [Reply]


  95.   95. Posted By: Ian H
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 5:12 pm 

    James,

    If Kubica doesn’t fully regain fine motor functions in his hand is there any kind of modifications which could be made to his car to allow him to carry on racing (similar to what we have seen in the past with A.Zanardi albeit with different injuries was able to return to racing)

    or will even steering an F1 car at high speed/g force through corners remain difficult

    [Reply]


  96.   96. Posted By: Kenny
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 5:47 pm 

    Today on the New York Times website, on the Wheels column in the Automobile section, is a photo of the wrecked car taken from the rear. It is quite startling…have a look.

    [Reply]


  97.   97. Posted By: Lalit
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 6:05 pm 

    Excellent insight James.

    I think you have hit the mark when you said – “It’s a restlessness, a need to challenge oneself. At the margin it’s almost a kind of rage.”

    God forbid, but imagine the uproar in Abu Dhabi if Luizzi had NOT missed Schumi’s helmet in the second corner.
    Everyone would be saying why did he ever leave his million dollar sofa.

    Its the rush, it is how they are built, and it is precisely why only they can do what a f1 driver needs to do inside these cars.

    Finally, I think one must compliment the Renault boss for his attitude. Quite refreshing in the days of Corporate speak.

    Let us all hope for a complete recovery.

    [Reply]


  98.   98. Posted By: Qiang
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 6:16 pm 

    Hi James,

    It will be a real shame for F1 world and fans to lose genius like Kubica. With the recent advancements of stem cell technologies, doctors may have a few more options later to restore motor neuron functionality or tissue regeneration in his arm.

    As for replacement driver, you did not mention Kimi at all. Shall I take it as 100% no?

    [Reply]

    Peter C Reply:

    Yes

    [Reply]


  99.   99. Posted By: Stone the Crows
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 6:18 pm 

    Very glad that Robert survived this crash, by the looks of it, it had the potential to be fatal. It is quite a shame, as 2011 was looking to be a very good year for him, perhaps it will be in another way.

    I don’t think its out of line for Eric to be optimistic about Kubica’s return to racing. If he were saying words to the effect that Kubica’s season/carrer is over everyone would be squealing about it being premature and bad form.

    Given the level of physical conditioning, and the attentiion given to a Formula One driver’s overall medical condition, Kubica won’t be coming back any earlier than he is able. This won’t be a repeat of what happened to Nikki Lauda.

    Though I think Senna and Hulkenberg have considerable talent, and I’d like to see them get a seat with a top team, I’m not sure about the wisdom of having two sophomore drivers working side by side. STR tried this a few times and it didn’t work out so well for them. Though Heitfeld is a bit past his prime he’s consistent and experienced and would be a good match up for Petrov. Liuzzi is experienced too, but I don’t think he’s as good or as consistent as Nick. Given the bad blood that happemed last year I don’t think Raikonnen is in the picture at all.

    I’d guess at this point that they’ll keep their options open and try each of their reserve drivers out to see which one performs best and adapts the most quickly.

    Again, best wishes to Robert, get well soon.

    [Reply]


  100.   100. Posted By: Paul Mc
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 6:37 pm 

    I dont see the point in Renault offering a timeframe for recovery at this stage. Its way too early to tell what the extent of the damage is and how long it will take to heal. I hope he can race in F1 and the damage is not career threatening.

    Interesting point on Michael Schumacher. After all he has achieved he should be sitting on the couch getting fat and spending his time with his family. Its just not in his genetic makeup to do that. Ive often heard ex F1 drivers comment on how difficult it is to step away from F1 i guess for Michael he felt he couldnt stay away more than 3 years.

    I dont personally have an issue with drivers doing other things before a season, i know Kimi and Heikki do those skimobile races in Finland and Webber and Button do a lot of biking etc. Accidents happen and Robert was really unfortunate to have a bad one.

    [Reply]


  101.   101. Posted By: Kirsty
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 8:13 pm 

    A F1 career is about 10 years, there’s plenty of time to do other high risk sports after retiring. Sitting out a season because of tennis injury or whatever isn’t worth it. I prefer drivers who are dedicated enough to reserve all the balls they have for the race weekends.

    [Reply]


  102.   102. Posted By: Rich C
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 8:51 pm 

    Now seeing reports Renault are also “considering” Liuzzi. So, Senna, Heidfeld, Liuzzi?
    I think this is dis-information. If they seriously think they have a contender in this season’s car, they can only go for Heidfeld. Anyone else is just giving it up.

    [Reply]


  103.   103. Posted By: Peter
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 10:11 pm 

    The best formula One drivers are born daredevils and will die daredevils.

    [Reply]


  104.   104. Posted By: Xman
        Date: February 8th, 2011 @ 10:41 pm 

    I havn’t had the chance to go through all the above comments, but I wonder how much effect the NO testing rule has had in this instance. MAYBE RK wouldnt be driving a rally car if he was testing as much as F1 drivers want to. Even though I agree with the no-testing rule, I wonder how many other drivers will need to sharper their skills elsewere and now will most likely not be allowed to by their teams.

    [Reply]

    Stone the Crows Reply:

    Interesting thought, but if Kubica wanted to go Rallying he would have gone even if there were more testing. I think Kubica is driving a WRC car because its exciting and fun. In the January 2011 (number 179 page 66) edition of F1 Racing he said “I don’t think that rallying can improve my performance in F1, but it doese make you become more of a complete driver. Its absolutly something that I enjoy and lately the pace has been good.”

    [Reply]


  105.   105. Posted By: Deanger
        Date: February 9th, 2011 @ 8:00 am 

    Have to say that I read all the comments saying things like ‘we don’t spend enough time talking about what a special breed racers are’ etc… And it makes me chuckle.

    That’s all we do. That’s all we say.

    It’s practically required that you write it.

    Heaven forbid you say “a race car driver is a great athlete, who is dedicated and in possession of natural talent, and follows his heart, BUT UNDERNEATH IT ALL MAY SUFFER FROM IRRATIONAL BITS OF EGOTISM AND OVER-CONFIDENCE THAT CAN EITHER HELP OR HURT HIM IN HIS JOB – like any other ordinary human being”.

    Kubica took more risks that Hamilton because that is who he is as a human. Not because he is a race car driver.

    [Reply]

    Thebe Reply:

    The reason we feel the need to comment on how special racers are as human beings is because as people we tend to take the nature of the work lightly. I think if you were ever to be exposed to the F1 driver’s world you would understand where these type of comments come from, you would better understand why most of them are motivated to take part in such dangereous hobbies. I really think that it is something worth commenting on because not most people are like F1 drivers, they are a very rare type of breed .I dont think anyone on this site is compelled to say but it is a fact, not most people can call themselves F1 drivers.

    [Reply]


  106.   106. Posted By: Chris Crawford
        Date: February 9th, 2011 @ 1:37 pm 

    Don’t know if this has already been shown on JAF1 Blog…. but how fortunate is Robert to ‘only’ have the injuries he has sustained, this could have been so much worse….

    http://forums.overclockers.co.uk/showpost.php?p=18408011&postcount=130

    [Reply]


  107.   107. Posted By: Bru72
        Date: February 9th, 2011 @ 3:46 pm 

    I enjoyed the article James. Racers, are part of a different breed in my view.

    [Reply]


  108.   108. Posted By: Yomi
        Date: February 9th, 2011 @ 7:49 pm 

    Replacement for Kubica? Raikkonen…simple. All the others will waste the car’s potential

    [Reply]

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