F1 Winter Break
Robert Kubica tests DTM Mercedes
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Jan 2013   |  6:14 pm GMT  |  101 comments

Robert Kubica, the former F1 driver who is recuperating from a partially severed arm, today tested a Mercedes from the German Touring Car series DTM, in Valencia.

The 28 year old Pole, who was badly hurt in a rally accident almost two years ago, covered 114 laps, or 456.570 kilometres today.

Kubica has said that it is too early to talk about a return to F1 competition, but he has taken part in some rallies and is gradually stepping up the intensity and level of his driving activities.

Today he experienced downforce again – although nothing like the levels and loadings in F1 – and it will have given him a better idea of where he stands.

One of the fastest and most intelligent drivers to pass through F1 in recent years, if he begins to show signs that he can match his former levels of performance it will put many people on alert, but controlling an F1 car is a long way off a DTM car,

“My first day of testing in a DTM car was great fun and I learned a lot about the series and the DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, ” said Kubica.

“It was a good experience, getting to know the car in different weather conditions. I was able to get to grips with the DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé and felt very comfortable in the car, even though after my long break it meant adjusting to the high downforce that a state-of-the art DTM race car produces.

“I’m very pleased with my performance on this first day of DTM testing and had no problems whatsoever in the car.”

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rob in victoria bc

Glad to see Robert, it's a shame he'll never be a Formula 1 driver again though.


Rob in victoria bc - NEVER SAY NEVER ! 🙂


Thanks Doc.


What a silly comment. Look at what Zanardi has achieved, where there is a will there is a way simple as that. No reason why he can't make it back with the right backing and support.


But realistically, I think the op was right.

Best of luck to Kubica (we all know he has the skill).


This comment could be realistic but I fill it's inappropriate.


Not such a silly comment, just practical. With an excess of drivers chasing too few seats, and sadly Money being the way in, I doubt if Robert could pay his way into an F1 drive. Hence the practical prediction. But I hope I'm wrong!

rob in victoria bc

Zanardi drove WTCC, competitively, but he never drove an IndyCar in anger again.

rob in victoria bc

I doubt that the meaning of the words '..IF he'd been racing', and 'rumours of him entering ...persist.', are lost on anyone.


Actually he completed thos final 13 laps at Lausitz back in 2003 in a modified Champ Car at that years meeting. He went fast enough to have qualified 5th on the grid if he'd been racing and rumours of him entering this years Indy 500 persist.


Like Kimi says, "we will see".


Sounds like he's recovering and at the stage where it's getting the form back rather than the muscle and mobility back.

DTM will do wonders for him.


No, he's still trying to get the mobility in his right hand back, he's had to have his rally car for the European Rally Championship adjusted from sequential flappy paddel to ease the loading on his arm.


I've just noticed that should say "from sequential TO flappy paddle"


@ Chris. I read Autosport. The gear box in the Regional Rally Cars (RRC) is a sequential stick shift and dispensation has had to be obtained from the FIA to have the car modified to take a semi-automatic paddle shift with a reduced gear change time to match the sequential's. It sounds like you're on about the Impreza and C4 WRC cars he drove at the end of last year.


The only "modification" in the car rally was the gear shifter from the right side of the steerring wheel to the left, like for left handed, not disable !, person 🙂 Looks like you are reading tabloids, not motorsports magazins 🙂


I have wondered if an F1 car could be modified to accommodate his mobility issues. Even if it makes the car half a second slower, that would still put him faster Petrov on evidence of his last season. Its such a shame that we'll never know quite how fast he could have been compared Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel (in no particular order). If he gets back into F1 and is competitive it'll be an incredible achievement, even more amazing than that fantasy novel about Lance Armstrong's comeback we all just stopped reading...


Its unlikely, from what I've read he has to hold his right arm out at an angle at the moment whilst he drives, theres no way to realistically modify a monocoque for that and still make it competetive. It's debatable whether he'd be able to deal with the sever forces being transfered back through the steering wheel as well.


I love this!

Do you think that he is ready for an F1 return? Maybe we will see him do some Friday tests this year?

Any idea what the lap times were like?


Brilliant to see Robert Kubica back in a proper racing car, I am really very happy for him.

I met him a few years ago and he's a really great guy, we played Scalectrix or a US version of it in a hotel in Brazil and he was just so down to earth and friendly. I have to hold my own arm at the thoughts of his horrific accident. He also gave the whole F1 world a shock with his huge accident in Montreal in 2007, and then one year later realised all his promise with a very well deserved maiden win.

In or out of F1 I hope Robert gets the chance to race at the highest levels possible and wish him nothing but the very best as his recovery continues.


I was at the hairpin in 2007 when Kubica went flying by in a very damaged car. I certainly featured the worst especially as his head appeared to bob back and forth undamped.

I took a bunch of photos of the accident that I've posted here: http://blog.octanenation.com/kubica-accident-pictures-an-automotive-thanksgiving/


I'm with you, he is a great driver and we wish him the very best in his recovery.


He´s definetevely a tough guy, to have those two crashes and still have the will and passion to drive at the highest level says a lot about his determination, power mentatility and fitness.

As he even stated, there is no assurance he can go back to compete in F1, for sure some teams will pay attention to his recovery proccess and some will even offer a test at some point, probably on some older car.

Hopefully he´ll do it because he was a champiom on the making.


it was said that he was faster about 0.5s than paffett in second mercedes


I do take testing times with a grain of salt. Track conditions can vary over short periods of time. There was no certainty that Paffett was trying. However, 0.5 seconds faster is better than Bruno Senna being 0.3 seconds slower than Button in 2008. Also, the feedback from rallying is that he's pretty special, so he seems not to have lost any speed. So in this case 0.5 of second might just be real.


He ended the day 0.10 sec down on Paffett's fastest time which is unbelievably good. I presume the 0.5 sec faster comes from a tweet from BBC's Andrew Benson during the day.

I'm not sure on the Senna testing story but was he not faster than Jenson? I'm pretty certain he would 9 out of 10 times be slower but on this occasion thought he was faster? Anybody know for sure?

Also wasn't a near 40 year old and not raced in 2 years Schumacher half a second up on Raikkeonon and Massa at the end of 2008 season test?

All meaning I wouldn't read too much into testing times.


Robert Kubica was 0.5secs faster than ex-DTM champ Gary Paffett...

Amazing Robert!


He ended the day 0.10 sec down on Paffett’s fastest time which is unbelievably good.


Great to see! Amazing he can jump in a completely new car and do 114 laps. Is he able to do any simulator work to see what an F1 car would be like?


There's nothing preventing him doing it apart from most simulators using an old tub from a car and Kubica's problems are around the mobility in his elbow and wrist. I'm pretty sure there's no restriction on who can drive the simulator. There's probably a restriction on hours of use to control costs and general R&D expense, so one not linked to a team may be more accessible to him as he isn't part of any specific R&D program. So a team may prefer to take him on if it knew that it could use Kubica several times to get consistency in feedback.


When we see Kubica back in a kart we'll know he's up to driving an F1. The amount of stress put through the driver's hand, wrist and arm will be a good test for strength! Fingers crossed for him 🙂


Maybe a GP2 test.


Hi Alan,

It isn't strength, but mobility of the joint. In a kart your arms aren't constrained in the same was as the tub forces the arms to stay close to the body. From there the driver needs specific mobility in the wrist, which he may also have an issue with.




as a physician, with no specific knowledge or expertise, but willing to guess- I would think there are 2 issues. "Mobility" could mean an orthopedic or mechanical problem, but it could also mean a neurological or fine motor control of hand function. if the latter, this would explain the length of time it's taken too; if he severed nerve(s), they must "grow" back down the arm slowly, and nerves grow about as fast as hair. and there is no guarentee the nerve would function at 100%. all this in the perspective of the F1 steering wheel's complexity.


might be true, but the problem with karting (aside from heavy steering) is that the steering wheel doesn't really face you, it faces the sky like on a bus or a lorry. the result is huge strain on the wrists. i obviously have no idea how this compares to an F1 car, but compared to a regular sports car its very tiring. Also, kart tracks tend to have a greater number of turns in a shorter space of time than an international race circuit.


He already done some karting, he did not compete but still he drove it and he drove it fast.


That's not quite the karting I am talking about. I could drive those all day without breaking a sweat. I couldn't drive one of these for more than 20 laps - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmT-xCshJso THAT'S the karting I am talking about.


Great video, thanks for posting.




Indeed. I wonder what a perfectly fit (pre-crash) Kubica could've done in the E20 this past season. I'm certain he would've added to his to-date solitary win.


Wish you all the best Kubica. Love to see you in F1 again. You have what it takes.


Here is a story...

2014 Kubica in a Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 car

Hamilton and Kubica - now that is a dream team


Lol, I love the level of respect shown to Rosberg. Might as well not be there, according to the fans.



The most anonymous driver of 2012..

If he didnt turn up - would anyone notice?


DTM isn't a bad landing place if F1 is out of reach


I could be like the other well wishers, and by that I do not mean I do not wish him well, BUT he will never be in F1, there is no chance for many reasons. By the time he gets to the point where he might be ready he would be too old. He like schumacher would be out of touch, would be up against the young guns, has to avoid any injury along the way...

Its like that crazy talk that Lotus came out with when it first broke... "he will be back in 6 months... before the end of the season"...

We all like to wax lyrical, but it will never happen

It a shame as I also felt he could have been alonside Alonso by now


Comeon mate !- he's only 28 and showing strong signs of recovery / never ever rule a determined guy out. He was no hope a year ago- a slight hope 3 months ago, but he is some hope now. He just needs probably another 6 months and strong rehab and he could possible test f1. He's not like Schumacher who was 41. Bit of a diff don't ya think !


You make it sound SO final. His initial conditions were life threatening and now he's possibly 0.5 seconds faster than Paffett in a DTM car. He, unlike Schumacher, has been testing a variety of machinery and showed little sign of being out of touch. Mobility of his arm is the question. NOT age, touch or raw speed. Don't underestimate his clout in the paddock. Ignore here say rumors and witness the facts.


Thats because it is final... don't believe the 0.5 second rubbish... no facts are known at any test... whats Paffett meant to do go 5 seconds faster and destroy his morale? Even if he was ... it will still not happen.

I sound so harsh but really I am just being realistic... Seems that's not what people say today just be sentimental.

One of the things I like about Zinardi is his realistic approach to his condition, do what I am fit for and yes do motorsport at levels I can, take on challenges.. but give up onsaying its F1 I am aiming for


I agree with you Dave P....

It seems to me that any sort of physical restriction (no matter how large or small) a driver possesses in terms of piloting an F1 car can only be marked down as an overpoweringly awesome minus in terms of him obtaining ultimate, flat out speed. That's not even considering the talent level of Kubica's contemporaries on the F1 grid.

A DTM car, rally car or, for that matter, a 250cc Kart is not a Grand Prix car. I read, on another F1 website, a comment made by an F1 fan that now (LOL) Vettel, Hamilton & Alonso may start looking over there shoulders, threatened by Robert.

Hey, no doubt Kubica was a large F1 talent. [Key word--was] However, in his unfortunate physical condition, at this time, Kubica would only be a threat to a Formula BMW driver testing an HRT F1 car.

Even Kubica would admit to that....


With that attitude he never would have made it to F1 in the first place....


Faster or slower than Paffatt...he is still competitive. How can sentimentality come into it when he is demonstrating he can achieve more and more as time goes on. If you are so adamant he can never make it in to F1 I assume you were just as accurate to predict he'd comfortably beat Loix and complete a 100+ competative laps in DTM testing last Feb 2011 after his accident. I have not said he will make it to F1. Never say never is my take. How can you be so sure from your arm chair?


He was too fast too be alongside Alonso, Alonso would never have let that happen let that happen just as he will never let Vettel into Ferrari before he leaves.


May be true... but Alonso was his best mate..


James, there was talk during the summer last year that Ferrari were looking to put him in their simulator and a 2010 car.

1) Would a simulator provide the required feeling of downforce to properly test his arm?

2) Has there been any more news about the Ferrari connection?



Re 1) there's two parts. There's no reason why not in terms of load through the steering wheel, it is just a case of how well the forces are simulated. If it can be done well then it could be a very important tool in getting the feel the driver wants.

The lateral g is not simulated as there's no way to do it. Amusement park simulators rely on rate of change of acceleration (ms^-3) to give very brief sensations, but it is not possible to simulate 5g under braking when there is only 1g available, making it pointless to have a moving platform.




I'd love to know if he was .5 sec faster than Paffet, perhaps he'll be wearing red with his close mate Alonso in 2014. that would be something, get well Robert F1 misses you


Nice to know the test went well. Surprising that there's been no mention on here of his 10 round European Rally Championship deal in an M-Sport run Ford Fiesta RRC. He'll probably be at least fighting for the wins on the tarmac events given the way he destroyed Freddy Loix on Rally du Var last November and if he can go well on gravel he might be on for a title tilt.

Rally Poland is going to be insane.


Kubica might still land a Marrusia drive. But he is coming back to F1 at a time when money is a big issue.

If he can get sponsors he has a chance to drive in a bottom 3rd team but thats probably the best he will be able to do now with the new young stars bubbling up. Who themselves cant get race seats.


And Bernie wants less teams...

More, I say!

Warren Groenewald

I tend to disagree with you. Kubica is a known quantity and top quality driver. If he makes it back to F1 it will be with a top 4 team, that's for sure.

He seems to have a lot of support and backing to get to the top again, so he'll have opportunities to test an F1 car first a few times with teams keeping an eye on his performances. If the rumours are true that he was quicker than Paffet already, then he appears to have lost none of his ability and it appears to just be a case of coping with the physical demands of an F1 car.

By 2014 I think each of the top 4 teams would have a seat available.


Potentially, RK might be the exception to rule and attract money rather than need to bring it?

His story would be a tremendous PR/marketing coup. If he lands a drive, his story could attract significant sponsorship and media coverage.


You are damn right, dude. Also, this is more than enough material for a based-on-true-events movie!


Good Luck Robert,

someone like you need to race no matter what the car/class you are one hell of a class driver who will always have a lot of fans, cuz you are the real deal 🙂



I wish Kubica all the luck there is. That guy is one mighty racer, it would be great to see him build himself back up to F1 fitness.


There is a bit of a difference between Robert Kubica and any young guns in F1 missing out on a race seat. Just look at the onboard video of Monaco 2010 in the yellow Renault. It is one of best quails you could see !

We are not talking about some new driver but a guy that lifted a whole teams performance and fighting with the likes of Ferrari and Mclaren in 2010 just prior his accident . If he makes more progress with his arm & fingers mobility- he should be permitted a test drive with an F1 car .

Don't forget people - Toto Wolff is Mercedes boss and whilst he appreciates that Robert is someway off. Im sure he would pull all the stops if he feels he is ready- he's already got him a successful DTM drive- so have faith people most of us want to see him back- imagine the coup

it would be to say you bought him back to f1. He's a proven quality driver who's already delivering results in each category.


I wonder how his lap times compare to those of the stablished DTM drivers.


I haven't seen any times published. I he was within a second or two of the fastest race lap there we would have heard something. It was changeable conditions though.


It's truly good to see RK looking to the future of his racing career after such a big setback. DTM appears to be a very good long term solution realistically, as many issues, most already mentioned above, will likely exclude his return to F1 as a grid filler. He certainly couldn't be discounted as a tester/development driver. His hand function should be close to right, but may lack strength and endurance under F1 stresses & pressures. His elbow prosthesis restricts pronation and supination, making F1 steering problematic and one good crash could dislodge that elbow and require a prosthesis revision - a certain end to F1 and most likely all racing. Tin-tops give better protection from this (without complete certainty), and he stands to have a decent career of 10+ years.


This is such a good piece of news!

Wouldn't trying something like GP3 or Le Mans give him a better feel for speed and down force though?

Scuderia McLaren

All my energy to you young Robert. If anyone can overcome the injuries sustained, it is you.

My head says an F1 return is highly unlikely. My heart says he can do it. Perhaps some Friday drives for a year with a Williams type team. Frank always loved a fighter. Kubica is the epitome of a fighter if there ever was one.


I am a hopeless dreamer and therefore I say, 2015 F1 WDC = Kubica...? Now wouldn't that be nice...? 😛


Funny how nobody ever seems to mention his pass on Lewis in Interlagos, seconds before Lewis passed Glock, Kubica got past Lewis, and mysteriously hit him, almost wrecking his Championship. Clearly he felt very threatened by Lewis, he got beaten him in lower formulae.

Luckily he failed to take Lewis out and luckily Lewis went on to win the WDC, but for me, Kubica's troubles are down to Karma. For this alone I do not like him and do not miss him.


I agree with you aplomb and I'm glad you brought it up!

I always thought that Kubica's move on Hamilton during that last lap pass at the 2008 Brazilian GP was intentional, and a shot at knocking Lewis out of 5th place, thus ruining Hamilton's final attempt at the World Championship.

It was done at, relatively, low speed and looked, a bit too, obvious. Secondly your Karma analysis I find very interesting, as from my view Kubica and Hamilton appear to be polar opposites--Hamilton a little on the colorful, swaggering side of things and Kubica a little conservative and square.


I would never say what happened to Kubica was karma ... that's just dumb. But I agree that he did drive erratically at points in that Brazilian GP when Hamilton was in close quarters to him.

Simao, the difference in passes is that the passee in Kubica's case (Sutil) didn't push it ... he could've kept his nose in and caused a collision, but he didn't. Webber wasn't giving up that position come hell or high water, and he was lucky that he incurred little to no damage out of the collision, while Hamilton was out.

It's silly to say he was a match to Hamilton's McLaren though. 14 wins to 1 in their years together speaks to that. If anything, he should thank Hamilton for running into Kimi in the Montreal pitlane, which paved the way for his sole win.


Hamtons words on Kubicas driving ethics.


Undertaking yourself is not a crime. Lewis pulled the same move on Vettel (a championship contender as you put in your post) in the 2012 season. What's the problem? Hardly a reason to dislike a driver is it?


Aplomb your English needs to be a bit better either that or you need to see a psychiatrist.


Needless to say you are Kubica hater which is plain to see. Isn't Hamilton well known for acting on track exactly the way you accused Kubica of? Kubica has always driven his car in the gentleman's manner unlike Hamilton, Vettel or Schumacher. There are plenty of examples proving this, just watch F1 2010 season Singapore race when he overtakes his opponent smoothly on the outside on the very same corner where Hamilton crashed at Webber being a result of his reckless overtaking,to prove your allegations a total rubbish!

Still, something tells me it would even get close to persuade you from such arrogant and evil-minded comments against unfortunate Kubica... So you claim his troubles are down to Karma"?.. Good God, get a grip man and stop hating. Both Hamilton and Kubica are great drivers, pity though, Kubica never drove a car as competetive a as Hamilton did. Even in inferior Renault, he was a match to Hamilton's Mercedes McLaren anytime. That speaks volumes.

Dig it!


Wow.... just, wow.


Congrats to Kubica for achieving such promising results with DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé! These are indeed very good news. Despite the accident it looks like things are going well for Robert. Slowly but surely he's recovering and taking his time to make sure it is properly accompanied by gradually testing different cars in various race/track characteristics. He's clearly still got the speed and his commitment to coming back to competitive racing seems to be greater than ever. With time he'll be only improving his overall physical condition as well as getting used to professional driving back again. His long-awaited and truly hard-earned Formula 1 comeback is now realistically appearing on the horizon.

Hats off to Kubica!


Robert is committed to the driving.

There is a gasoline circulating in his body instead of blood.

He will be back to F1 sooner or later.

Best regards.


Just imagine him in last year's Lotus...


Definitely a championship challenger


I see Timo got the bmw drive, good for him. Ted Kravitz says he basically saved Marushia by accepting that they could not keep him, and not insisting on the contract being played out. I hope they do an art car this year.


This is a certain Mr Wolf's Mercedes DTM outfit, yes? The same Mr Wolf who is now involved in Mercedes F1? Anyone thinking Nico Rosberg might be watching his results and wondering if his seat might be at risk from Robert if he doesn't perform.

I'd love to see him back in the top tier of motorsport.


Possibly ... didn't even think of that.


Kubica is such a great guy.

Whatever level of motorsport he manages to return to, he will have my full support.

I hope he does DTM this year. I see Glock has signed for BMW too!


Hi James,

My first post of the year! I read A Benson saying he heard that Kubiica was quicker than Garry Pfafert. Do you have any information about the timings of those laps.


Just testing, Robert was just going as fast as he could, Garry would probably be testing the car in several configurations, they are allowed some airo setting changes.


Kubica is far and away my favorite driver. Even if he just does DTM then I will be happy and will follow his results there but i would love to see him back in F1, preferably in a Ferrari!


hamilton/kubica. toto can make it. team to match ferrari's alonso/vettel.


Good to see him back on circuit, and evidently still well and truly on the pace.

Having said that, I must confess I feel his chances of making a comeback to Formula One have more or less gone now. My understanding is that it is nerve damage limiting his mobility, rather than any issues relating to muscle strength, which is the root cause of his problems insofar as returning to single seaters is concerned. Given that it is now two years since the accident, and the surgery he has undergone since then, that is a concern. He seems to have regained the remainder of his nerve function, so while I am no doctor by any stretch of the imagination I fear that what he is left with may be somewhat more permanent. I very much hope I am wrong, as it would be fantastic to see him back on the F1 grid again. But it is starting to look like one of those where what hasn't returned by now isn't going to return.


My gut feeling is he won't make it back to f1. I hope I'm wrong but I can't see it. It was going to happen this season or never. He doesn't look anywhere near f1. Can't rotate his forearm after all this time and all those operations.

Happy for you to prove me wrong Robert.


I heard somewhere that the issue with his arm not functioning properly was the difficulty he would have in extracting himself from the car quickly in the event of a crash. Or rather not being able to pass the FIA test that pertains to this. I suppose there are lots of issues and I am skeptical he will return but I do wish him well.


Wonder if the biggest barrier to Kubica coming back is something silly like the finger dexterity needed to adjust all the buttons on the steering wheel versus the outright ability to turn the wheel and drive the crap out of a car. If that's the case, sad.



Whatever the back and forth speculation on whether RK will ever be capable of returning to F1, he’s a true and characterful man of the sport he and we love. It’s not all about winning championships, it’s also about beating your own handicap, about versatility, conduct and keeping the passion. Men and women true to their sport should not be perceived as mobile advertising billboards, but as sports icons, role models to us all – in the end it's those values that count. Niki Lauda, Alex Zanardi, Stirling Moss, for diverse reasons all exemplify enviable unlimited strength and commitment. In today’s commercial world Vettel is of higher value than Moss or Fangio ever were. But who proved more and was the better driver? Who drove ALL cars competitevely? True, we will never know the ultimate best. But it’s a lion-heart that takes commitment and fighting all odds. Most are fortunate not to experience the challenge of suffering and fighting to come back. By the same token, a real driver is one who can compete equally well on the track and in rallying, or in the Mille Miglia. Hats off to Robert, a genuine petrolhead and not just a one-trick pansy. And major respect to Renault, who allowed him to contest rallies during his F1 contract, regardless of the outcome, but true to the spirit of motorsport and in disdain of profit potentially lost.


he only had himself to blame for the situation he is in. He simply pushed too hard in rally and caused such horrific accident. Like Kimi had experienced, in rally you don't have run off area.

Nevertheless, i like his optimistic mode. He keeps trying to comeback to motorsports.

Good luck


Dose him up on painkillers and he'll by right. That's the motoGP way at least! Mike Hailwood and Mick Doohan carried some pretty serious injuries on the road to some pretty amazing achievements in the sport.

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