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Robert Kubica F1 comeback latest: Renault RS17 test lined up after Hungarian GP
Posted By: Editor   |  24 Jul 2017   |  11:36 am GMT  |  102 comments

Renault has announced that Robert Kubica will test a 2017 Formula 1 car for the outfit after the Hungarian Grand Prix. The 32-year-old Polish returnee will drive the RS17 at the in-season test in Hungary, with Renault explicit that it is to gauge whether he is ready for competition in 2018.

He will join a competitive queue of drivers for whom that second Renault seat alongside Nico Hulkenberg is a great opportunity; Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez being two of them. Sainz has been told by Red Bull that he is free to leave at the end of 2017 if he repays the money that Red Bull spent on getting him to F1. This would be in the region of £4m to £5m, not counting his Toro Rosso years, so the question is who would fund that?

Spelling it out, Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul says that the 2017 car test will be a full assessment of Kubica’s capabilities in a current car to see if he could ‘return to competition in the upcoming years’.

His potential comeback first gained traction with a June test at Valencia, with Kubica then testing the 2012 Renault F1 car at Circuit Paul Ricard, following that up with an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. His last entrance in a grand prix took place in 2011, and the Pole has completed 76 races for Sauber and Renault over his career.

“The first two days of testing allowed both Robert and ourselves to gather a great amount of information,” Abiteboul said.

Kubica will drive the first day of the two-day test, beginning on the Tuesday at Hungaroring after the race.

“The upcoming session with the R.S.17 at the Hungaroring will allow us all to obtain detailed and precise data in a current car and representative conditions,” said Abiteboul.

“After this test, we will carefully analyse the collected information to determine in what conditions it would be possible for Robert to return to competition in the upcoming years.”

According to Autosport, Kubica’s classification as a non-rookie means Renault will test him in lieu of either Jolyon Palmer or Nico Hulkenberg, as the FIA demands that two of the four in-season test days must be completed by a driver who hasn’t competed in more than two grands prix.

Hulkenberg tested for one day in Bahrain meaning that he has one day of testing left. Renault test driver and Formula 2 race-winner Nicholas Latifi will run the second day of the Hungary test.

In-season testing buzz

After Force India announced that Gerhard Berger’s nephew and DTM racer (currently third in the standings) Lucas Auer will occupy one of the two rookie test days in Hungary, Sauber has now announced that Nobuharu Matsushita will take the wheel for the Swiss outfit.

The Japanese F2 driver will make his F1 debut on the second day of the in-season test after fellow F2 racer Gustav Malja takes over the opening day.

23-year-old Matushita began his career in karting with stints in single-seater championships across Asian. He now races for ART in the F2 Championship having taken one victory.

“When I was four years old, I was fascinated by Michael Schumacher, watching him race in Formula 1,” said Matsushita.

“Since then my dream was to become a Formula 1 driver.

“I am very excited about my first F1 test and I am really looking forward to driving the Sauber C36-Ferrari at the Hungaroring – it is a great opportunity for me.

“I hope it will be a productive day for the team as well as for myself, so that I can learn as much as possible. I would like to thank the Sauber F1 Team for making this happen.”

New Sauber Team Principal Frederic Vasseur continued: “I am pleased that Nobuharu has this great opportunity. He deserves the experience of his first test in a Formula 1 car.

“Ever since his debut in Formula 2 with ART Grand Prix, I have been following his progress closely, and have watched him advance his performance from year to year. With this F1 test, he comes one step closer to his dream of becoming an F1 driver one day.”

Current F2 dominator Charles LeClerc will take the wheel for Ferrari on the first day of the test while Briton George Russell, leader of the GP3 Series, will join Mercedes for its test.

Have your say on the in-season test at the Hungaroring in the comment section below.



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The prospect of a return for Robert Kubica is tantalising. However, I’m curious as to what medical test he would have taken to be cleared to get into a F1 car, in particular a current one?


Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez aren’t in the same league as a fully capable Kubica on the top of his game. Lets hope that is the case in Hungary.


Best of luck to Robert. if anything, it generates a lot of positive publicity for Renault, so that must be a nice change for them


While reading this article everything sounded to be is a distant future, just to find out it’s next week already…….geez.


James you never been part of any rumour. There is something going on at Renault we will wait and see at Belgian GP if he replaced JP, it will be again repeat of sponsorship move of Rexona I remember.


Said a while ago that Renault would test Kubica after Hungary, then drop Palmer for Spa if the test doesn’t throw up any problems. They’ll then use the remainder of the season to thoroughly assess Kubica. If he performs well against Hulk, then he stays. If not, they’ll turn to Sainz.

Not sure what happens to Sainz if Renault take Kubica for 2018, though. He could stay at Toro Rosso, theoretically. I suspect, though, that his new contract was only put in place to ensure they could get a payout if he goes elsewhere. It makes little sense to retain Kvyat otherwise, with Gasly waiting in the wings and looking very much ready to step up. Where else could Sainz go, though? He’d be high on my shopping list if I were Claire Williams, but with Grosjean confirmed at Haas you have to wonder who’ll be in the second Ferrari seat. Sainz could be an option, as could Perez. I suspect a deal has already been done though, otherwise Grosjean wouldn’t have committed to Haas. It’s probably Kimi, though I wouldn’t be especially surprised if Rosberg came back for them.


There is no doubt that Kubica still has the knack for superior speed and racing!
It was in November last year, when he showed up at the testing of the LMP-1 sportscars that this became obviously clear to everybody. Colin Kolles offered him the chance to try some laps in his team’s car and Kubica blew all away by driving faster than the team’s own WC drivers! The recent test in the 4-year old F1 Renault car showed he also has the strength and endurance to compete at the highest level despite the grave accident, amputation and surgeries he went through. Granted, latest generation F1 car might pull a bit more g, but have no doubt Kubica has the mental strength and stamina to be ready for it. Pay drivers, move aside for a real racer !!

søren christensen

Although I wish all well for Kubica, I doubt it will ever happen. I simply do not trust this Renault management. And that a Man with a partly disabled arm can drive these Racers. There is a lot of hype about this, (and many Polish spectators will come to Hungary, staying to see the test). That might also be part of the whole story
Should I be proven wrong in my opinions I would gladly accept it…,


Should I be proven wrong in my opinion I would gladly accept it…, same for me, as I understand the trouble is his right arm. His ability to stretch his elbow to fit in the cockpit could be a important issue. See this photo: [img][/img]

søren christensen

@twitch6. Sure Rosenqvist is a good driver. But – he is way too “old” for the current trend in F1. With 26, he is way past the teen age which seems to be preferred, for rookies entering F1. Mind you, he took 5 seasons f3 to win the championship. Not mind blowing, when the trend is 1-2 seasons in a junior category, and champion, if a driver shall be picked for F1 between the many talents out there.


While I haven’t seen much of Auer; what I saw of DTM at Norisring he looked phenomenal. Kept cool during two hectic races. I look forward to reading about his time in the Force India.

I like Matushita, but I don’t think he has what it takes to be a successful F1 driver. Strikes me a bit of another Nakajima. Solid but never going to be a winner.

If Sauber/Honda want to push a Japanese driver I think Fukuzumi (currently in GP3) would be a better prospect. If it wasn’t for his bad luck at Silverstone, he’d be up there with Russell.

On a side note, how could would it be to see a successful Japanese driver in F1. That nation has given so much to motorsport except an F1 world champion (or much Le Mans 24 success).

Also, James, who will McLaren run in the tests? Would be good to see Lando Norris get a run.


I doubt either Auer or Matsushita will have superlicense for 2018.


The presence of Kubica on the grid next year might just be enough to compel me to continue watching F1. And I suspect I’m not the only one who feels this way. Otherwise I suspect that those horrible cockpit thongs will cost F1 another 170 million viewers.


James, Nobuharu is on the McHonda books, is he not? Is this not an important piece of info, considering he’s now gonna test for Sauber?


It’s happening, it’s happening….where’s a meme when you need one lol.

As for the mid season testing, I’m super disappointed that a team, especially Sauber, hasn’t offered Felix Rosenqvest a test. Those two Swedish investors need to put their money behind a winning driver, and Felix is the Swedish driver they should be looking at, not Ericsson, sorry.

Felix has won in nearly everything he’s sat in. 2015 F3 Euro Champion, 2x Macau GP winner, Indy Light’s race winner, podiums in Blancpain, and race wins and poles in Formula E. He’s also shown impressive form in two Indycar tests. The kid is the business, and would be a name more people knew of if he had more financial support. He definitely deserves a shot in F1.


That Formula E grid has some very good drivers.


Please please please kubica back on the grid in 2018.


What does it say about the quality of the bottom half of the F1 grid that a driver carrying a permanent injury (disability) from an accident years ago is going to be capable of walking back into F1 and push one of the “future” young talents off the grid (without any apparent cash payment)? That to me is a level of difficulty similar to seeing Tiger Woods return to golf and immediately contending for a major.
One of the sporting events I had filed under “things I will not see in my life again”.


Check out Lemvil’s excellent list in post above!

1/3 of the grid ought to go. That serious old-timers like retirees Massa and Kimi are still around and making it to the front tells you something about the rest…


A bit unfair Frederick? After all thereis no indication (as yet) that RK’s “permanent injury” has cost him any speed or racing ability…


Kubica has been working toward this for many years. A sustained recovery effort from a proven F1 talent. Not just anyone off the street.

And talking of talent and physical disability, check out guitarist Django Reinhardt…


Subterfuge by Sauber using testing to find their next pay driver.
Surely test drivers must have a little clue about what they are “testing”. This pair won’t.


I apologize for hijacking the Robert Kubica thread but could you please have an indepth discussion about this oil burning story. It seems to be growing by each GP. Initially we were all led to believe this was Red Bull attacking the Mercedes engines, then we were told the actual clarification was directed at Ferrari by Mercedes. Now the FIA is starting to put actual numeric limits on the use of oil per 100kms which means someone has handed the FIA some major proof of engineering malfeasance or should I say F1 fuel innovation. Either way, I dismissed most of this as the standard mid-season F1 smoke screen by teams probing each other for technical weaknesses but now it is starting looking like we have fire with all the smoke. Does anyone have a clear handle on the real culprit in this new technical mystery?


I think we’d be pretty safe is thinking that they are all doing it to some extent, it’s a rather obvious loop hole in the fuel flow limitations. From Azerbaijan they had to remove the combustible additives in the oil. The next step is limit on how much oil they can use during a race, 9 litres then reducing to 6 litres.

The confusing part was some sort of allowance for an additional ICE to be added to the numbers for Hungary or Belgium. Would be good to get clarification on exactly what they means.


I do not think they are going to add an EXTRA unit to the pool. My understanding is that all teams are expected to introduce a fresh engine after the mid-season break so essentially since the top contenders are either on unit #2 or unit #3 out of a max of 4 units, they will have to make sure the next unit introduced meets the new limit. Otherwise, if a team is currently on unit #3 (which is not compliant) and they add new unit #4 in Spa, it will MUST meet the new limit or in Monza they will have to add a unit #5 and take a engine penalty when the mandatory limit is enforced by the FIA. For example, If Ferrari is the offending culprit, they will have to reengineer their remaining unit to meet the spec on or before Monza to meet the FIA limit of 0.9L/100KM. HOWEVER, it could (POSSIBLY) mean the technical fix may not be backward compatible to the earlier 3 units Ferrari used until Monza. Essentially, Ferrari would only have ONE NEW ICE unit for the balance of the season after Monza OR they will have to take a penalty for a new unit #5. HOWEVER, remember we also suspect Ferrari has reached the limit on its turbo units, so they would have to take a DOUBLE PENALTY (5th ICU and 5th TCU) when they introduce the new powertrain – you can no longer stockpile components like last year.


We are aware Ferrari removed/transferred their powertrain engineer earlier this month. IS IT POSSIBLE this problem could explain why he was removed/transferred. I am speculating that if Ferrari is currently running with powertrains that CANNOT meet the oil burn limit imposed from Monza race, they could be in a significant disadvantage to Mercedes in the championship fight. While Mercedes (if they are innocent of this trick) may introduce a new unit in Monza, BUT could still resort to one of their previous units (e.g. the Silverstone unit) which would only have raced a few times for the less demanding tracks (like Japan). Meanwhile Ferrari (assuming the fix is not backwards compatible) would have to be conservative with its usage since any unit after Monza (when they MUST be in compliance) would be a penalty (a 5th unit). AGAIN THIS IS ALL UNINFORMED SPECULATION – and I am (biasedly) focusing on Ferrari because of the somewhat unusual change to engineers in a season where the SF70-H has been close to Mercedes until Silverstone! Alternatively, if they are both doing it they both will have to take penalties and Red Bull may find themselves in a free win race before Abu Dhabi.


Palmer should be very worried by this development. All credit to Renault for giving Kubica a chance to return to competition and if he is capable of handling a 2017 F1 car, he will be a far better prospect than Palmer will ever be.


Good for Kubica.

Great talent in his early years. How good is he now?? Only Renault knows.


With 40th anniversary celebrations for Renault and Williams and all the speculation about Kubica/Palmer/Sainz, this is turning into 1977, when Fleetwood Mac released ‘Rumours’!

Like everyone else I’d love to see Kubica back, but he probably still has a few hurdles to clear despite next week’s test, plus Palmer has a contract with Renault. No doubt there is a performance clause, but I would hope there is something about the car’s reliability and competitiveness to balance that out.

I would be surprised if Kubica or anyone else other than Palmer is in the car come Spa, however what really concerns me is, who are all you guys going to slag off if Renault do take a gamble on Kubica?


who are all you guys going to slag off if Renault do take a gamble on Kubica?

I would put all my money on……..

Do I really need to tell you?


Go on, be a sport …..


If I were Renault and considering dropping Palmer for Kubica, I’d be looking nervously at Singapore on the calendar. From a driving perspective, it’s an entirely different proposition than Spa and Monza.

If Palmer does go, I think we can expect the rain of scorn to fall on Kvyat and maybe Vandoorne instead.


testing after hungry to see if his times are competitive with the just run race.
I doubt he would be in the car this year as why would Renault want the bad press of letting a driver go mid season and ruin his career. Maybe next season when Palmer may move on from this unreliable car anyway.


This is F1. If Renault thinks Kubica will score more points than Palmer the youngster will be history.

Every point scored gives the team a heap more money for next year. Far more than Palmer brings to the team.


Kubica’s career will be toast if he spends the rest of this year in a renault breaking down or finishing outside the points.


I would love to see Robert back in a F1 car, has too much time passed I wonder ?


Would be a good thing to have RK back on the grid. He has redefined the work ethic and blazed a positive trail. Nice to have some feel-good news. Thanks, James.


Wish list for 2018 – hiring 5 greedy candidates and getting rid of mostly poor or lacklustre drivers.

Norris (X)

Ericsson X
Stroll X
Raikkonen (X)

X = not gonna happen
(X) = probably not gonna happen

It’s possible that one new team is warranted to accomodate this. That’s also on my wish list.


Too early to say about a lot of those. Giovinazzi might get in at Sauber, but only if they stick with Ferrari power. If the Honda deal goes ahead, Matsushita will probably get the seat. Similarly, it’s hard to see where Ferrari can put Leclerc if they aren’t supplying engines to a customer team. If he wins this season’s F2 championship, though, they’ll either get him a test & reserve drive somewhere or try to keep him fresh in Super Formula.

Gasly I think probably will be at Toro Rosso next year, but alongside Kvyat. Red Bull seem to have only extended Sainz’s contract in order to force another team to buy him out of it. Kvyat has only been kept on as insurance, but will really need to tidy up his driving if he wants to stay in F1 beyond next year. He’s fast enough.

Kubica will, I think, get Palmer’s seat for Spa and will get the 2018 drive assuming he performs in the remainder of the season.

Norris needs another year or two, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran some Fridays for McLaren next year.

Palmer is toast. Ericsson and Stroll are untouchable thanks to their financiers. Kvyat, as mentioned, will almost certainly get one last chance to shine. Massa could be kept on at Williams, but I’ve a feeling they’ll find Sainz is available and make a move for him instead. I can’t decide about Kimi. I think they’ll probably either keep him or sign Perez (which might see Sainz at Force India). Alternatively, they could bring back Rosberg and blow Silly Season sky high!


Norris isn’t ready yet.
I know it’s not really a fit given allegiances, but I’d like to see Norris in Pema Power GP2/F2 next year. He’d be a worthy replacement for Leclerc.

I’m unconvinced that ART (given it’s links with McLaren in GP2/F2 sans Carlin) would give Norris a championship winning car.


Can somebody please confirm Nobuharu is a relative {son} of Hiro Matsushita, heir of the Panasonic empire?
Did my research, but no confirmation from reliable sources.
Thanks in advance.


TY, Guys.
So I can’t call him Prince Matsushita anymore xD


It doesnt seem like it.
But he’s signed to McHonda as of 2017, as a test driver. Seems like Sauber are sticking with Honda next year maybe.


No, He’s not Hiro Matsushita’s son, and as far as i know not even a relative.

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