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Robert Kubica hails his ‘amazing progress’ as Williams prepares to decide on 2018 F1 line up
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Posted By:   |  05 Dec 2017   |  7:36 am GMT  |  182 comments

Robert Kubica made a popular appearance at the Autosport Awards in London on Sunday night, openly discussing his adaptation back to an F1 car after the injuries that sidelined him in 2011. Williams is set to decide soon whether to back his comeback bid, or to take the money being offered by Sergei Sirotkin.

Kubica was asked to present a rally award on Sunday and noted that his time in WRC on the comeback road had played a key part in learning the importance of adaptation.

“It’s a completely different sport, it’s nothing to do with Formula 1. As a rally driver you need to be a much more flexible driver, you have to adapt to different conditions – the conditions are never the same, ” he said.

“As a circuit driver you have to be very precise, very consistent. As a rally driver you cannot do that.”

Kubica’s ability to adapt to different conditions has certainly helped with his aspirations to return to F1, and he has spent the latter half of 2017 preparing for a return to F1 against all the odds, testing with both Renault and Williams.

The F1 fraternity was palpably excited for the return of Kubica when his first Renault test was announced, although most were understandably curious as to whether he could overcome his arm injuries which – seemingly, at least – cut short a promising F1 career.

Kubica participated in his first F1 test in nearly seven years at Valencia, clocking up the miles in the 2012 Lotus E20 around the Circuit Ricardo Tormo. Featuring alongside reserve driver Sergey Sirotkin, who assumed something of a benchmark figure at the test, Kubica is said to have been faster than the Russian – although the data are a closely-guarded secret. In Yes Marina the impression was the other way around in Sirotkin’s favour.

When Carlos Sainz Jr. became an option for Renault, Kubica’s potential return was put on ice before Williams showed interest in assessing the 32-year-old Pole. After a few days testing 2014-spec machinery, Kubica got the chance to pilot Williams’ current-spec machinery at the post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tyre test.

Once more sharing duties with Sirotkin, who became a late contender for the Williams drive vacated by the retiring Felipe Massa, Kubica fared strongly, appearing in much better shape compared to his time in Renault’s RS17 at the Hungaroring, indicating that his pace increases with more time in a car.

The Pole drove largely on softer tyre compounds than Sirotkin.

There are limitations, which Kubica freely admitted to in his appearance at the Autosport Awards, but he was adamant that he was able to enact workaround solutions in his driving and that the physical side of driving an F1 car is not a problem.

“There was new stuff to learn, a new experience and, of course, the learning process of my body to get around my limitations.

“This year has been great for me and although I haven’t raced, what I achieved and how I progressed has been amazing.

“Honestly, I have much more limitations in my daily life. Of course, it’s not the same driving an F1 car as it has been in the past, but still my limitations are much less than it looks like.

“Most – about 90% – of my driving is the same as it was in the old days.”

There are a few small accommodations afforded to Kubica in order to get him comfortable with the current generation of F1 cars. His steering wheel, for example, has both up and downshift capabilities on one side to allow Kubica to change gear with his stronger hand. The cockpit headrest is also a little different to give him more space to turn the wheel.

From the outside looking in, it’s difficult to ascertain where Kubica stacked up in the Abu Dhabi test alongside Sirotkin and regular driver Lance Stroll, as runs were prescribed by Pirelli and – perhaps wisely – Williams has also given nothing away.

Williams management is deciding this week whether to go with Kubica or to take the money offered by Sergei Sirotkin, who also tested in Abu Dhabi with Kubica.

The story around Sirotkin is not as attractive as around Kubica, especially with the parallels with Frank Williams’ own comeback story, but the economic realities of F1 today are harsh for Williams.

Kubica believes he’s ready, and feels that he’s learned to adapt to F1 with his own limitations.

“The brain makes a big difference, it’s amazing how much potential the brain has and how quickly we can adapt to different conditions.

“Unfortunately, I was interrupted in my career, I had several injuries, but in the end I learned a way how to live with them, how to drive an F1 car with them, and in the end I’m quite surprised about the results that I saw.

As Williams makes a decision on who will partner Lance Stroll, all eyes will be on the Grove outfit as the rest of the driver market is sewn up. However, a Robert Kubica return would certainly provide F1 with something of a feel-good story.

What do you think of Kubica’s comeback story? Leave your comments in the section below.

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1

Late to the dance here but why couldn’t Williams sign a deal with Kubica and have Sergey as reserve. They can pen a contract where if Kubica doesn’t perform as hoped after 10 races they can put Sergey in the seat. This accomplishes 2 things. Martini can do all the 25 year old plus marketing with Kubica for the season and if Kubica turns out to be less then expected they can seat Sergey and his millions for the second half of the season. Williams would be foolish not to consider this option.

2

I think maybe much depends on how much confidence Sir Frank has in the 18 car.

3

With so many talented British drivers about, I would very much like Williams to put one of them in their car. The level of participation in motorsport in Britain is enormous with more than a dozen circuits running full racing programmes every weekend throughout the season. I don’t believe this is equalled anywhere else in the world.

4

The thing is Lance Stroll needs a teammate who’s older and experienced to mentor Stroll (in just about anything related to racing). Stroll just can’t do it on his own. He’s a nice kid, i really like him as a person and wish him al the best, but as a race driver he just ain’t good enough. Especially when it comes to F1 which is way out of his league. If it wasn’t for Massa mentoring him and all the extra testing throughout the year etc. he would be last place in every GP. There´s only one reason he´s in F1 and that is daddy´s money and Williams who needs it. Daddy´s cash is infinite so that ain´t the problem. The problem is Massa who retired. So they need a replacement and this is main reason to think about signing someone like Kubica. His dad is pulling a lot of strings at Williams because of his wealth and he doesn’t want his son to look bad. If it wasn’t for this the normal logical thing would be to sign a young talented driver. But then Stroll would probably finish last or close to last every GP.
The other reason to let Kubica test for Williams is just marketing.
There’s not a single reason to take someone as Kubica. If it wasn’t for the Stroll’s they probably would have signed Wehrlein for 2018.

5

Well, the net is buzzing with speculation and there’s a whole salty mob besieging Williams Twitter feed. What can it all mean? There are some extraordinarily rude things being said about Claire and the team. Just awful. Never mind the halo, this kind of behaviour is off my radar and it plain turns me off that I might be sharing a grandstand with these people. Nope…

6

It would be a fairy tale story for Kubica to return but seems increasingly unlikely that he will.

If he were up to speed it would be obvious by now but the fact its taken so many tests and still no clearer suggests he just doesn’t have anything special to give anymore.

He was nearly 1 second slower than Massa’s times in Abu Dhabi test. Granted not back to back but that’s a huge gulf.

So if he has nothing special to offer other than a feel good story, and appears to be slower than Massa, wouldn’t it be better for Williams to get a younger talent with some cash for 2018?

Then in 2019 Bottas returns… because doesn’t look like any other team manager on the grid wants him.

7

“Kubica fared strongly … indicating that his pace increases with more time in a car.”

Not necessarily. While all drivers should naturally perform better with more time in the car, this is a simplistic conclusion to have arrived at. There is an important variable which seems to have been overlooked here: the different nature of both circuits. The Hungaroring has long corners and lots of high- and low-speed direction changes, whereas Yas Marina has one high-speed direction change (T2-3) and three chicanes, and short corners. So it may just be a case of Kubica struggling at technical circuits and being better when there are fewer demands on his arms.

8

KUB is not good as he was.
Test data from Polish journalists on SOFT tyres (KUB had longer runs then SIR):
Seria 1
KUB SIR
1:45.834 1:45.487
1:45.634 1:44.991
1:45.522 1:48.775
1:45.060 1:46.294
1:44.665 1:44.728
1:44.793 1:44.797
1:44.624 1:44.681
1:44.832 1:44.439
1:44.810 1:44.289
1:44.514 1:44.323
1:44.496
1:45.298

Seria 2
KUB SIR
1:44.038 1:43.876
1:44.046 1:43.689
1:44.039 1:43.775
1:44.104 1:43.562
1:44.378 1:43.562
1:44.258 1:43.406
1:44.435 1:43.825
1:44.344 1:43.422
1:44.169
1:44.436
1:44.685
1:45.748

Seria 3
KUB SIR
1:44.708 1:43.649
1:44.311 1:43.795
1:44.227 1:43.917
1:44.038 1:43.703
1:45.025 1:43.560
1:44.308 1:43.867
1:50.131 1:43.704
1:44.670 1:43.331
1:44.912
1:44.805
1:44.676
1:51.630

KUB didn’t have result less then 1:44 instead of SIR

9

Too much noise around Kubica. What did he accomplish in the past? He was constantly beaten by Nick Heidefeld at BMW

10

The noise is because he had a lot of fans who still feel a sense of loss about what could have been for him. Hugely talented, future potential champion. If he hadn’t been injured he’d probably be sitting in a top seat now. He’s a real racer who wasn’t just another overly polished pay driver.

11

Jake. Completely off topic but you sir, have my all time favourite initials. JBL. I say, well played to your parents..😎

12

I think Force India could be the biggest loser next year as the 2018 Williams will have been designed under Paddy Lowe’s watch and I suspect it will move them towards the front of the mid field pack.
Force India as efficient as they are, are likely to fall behind McLaren & Renault too.

13

There is absolutely no reason to pick Robert Kubica over Sergei Sirotkin besides emotional reasons. Everybody is only paying attention to his handicap and get all excited after he does 100 laps. Yes he was a really good driver before the accident and yes he can still drive a f1 faster then most of us these days. But if you look at lap times alone you will see notice the dream is over. Both Stroll and Sirotkin are a lot faster then Kubica even if they only did a few laps. Kubica is a temporary billboard for Williams nothing more.

14

Kvyat for the Win..

15

I think F1 is showing a rare glimpse of a caring heart by considering Kubica. He was a great driver cut short.

However i am getting the feeling that he wasnt quick enough. He used to have blazing speed, that was his main party trick.

If he still had that he would have been signed already.

16

If Williams choose Sirotkyn then they will be the most boring team in the paddock.
Kubica may deliver experience, feedback and chance for a mythical comeback for a victory … that may come true

17

It just has to be Kubica. His hunger has driven him so incredibly far. Considering his circuimstances, I have utmost respect for him as both professional driver, and more importantly, as a man. Given a chance and more training, he will shine again just as he did in the past. C’mon Williams, just sign him already!

18

No doubt Sirotkin is competent, but Williams would always be left wondering “How would Robert had faired in that session?”

19

Hi James, is Sirotkin offering so much more than Wehrlein (with his Mercedes backing)? I noticed Sirotkin is around Pasal’s age so what happened to the Martini age limit farce?

Thanks!

20

Not sure why people refer back to Kubica’s previous time in F1 – whether he is as good as he was then is irrelevant. He would be racing those that are around now and can only be compared to them – he was good and considered a threat by Lewis but can only ever be an indication of his desire. One point I do consider relevant is that neither Renault or Williams had any issue over his controlling the car – any driver change in a test takes time to move pedals etc and it only appears his special need is a revised steering wheel layout. That also suggests a wheel is not as expensive as some suggest – they might cost a fortune to develop but they are obviously not that expensive to build a revised layout.
On another point I notice the car in the photo is as driven at the last race – James – what happened to the red in the Martini stripes? Haves asked before but nobody seems to have an answer.

21

Apparently the red is removed to not advertise Martini as alcohol. Or something like that.

22

This was actually asked (and answered) in the comments not too long ago – Search and you too will find the answers you seek 😉

23

Why does it have to be an either or binary choice, teams are allowed four drivers throughout a season. Robert Kubica has impressed me with his competitive drive and proven ability to improve the car with feedback to his engineers. The only unknown is has ability to drive an F1 car in an F1 competitive environment.

24

Get in the Christmas spirit, FAST!

http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/style/a13995403/of-course-the-mclaren-f1-gtr-is-a-great-christmas-tree-hauler/

Wonder if any needles were left on the tree upon arrival home…

25

I think some people are being really quite unfair to Sergey Sirotkin. He’s not Sakon Yamamoto. He brings good money, but has also enjoyed a strong junior career to data. He’s been put in the shade by some very, very quick drivers but I’ve no doubt he could do a good job in F1.

And that, I think, could partially solve Williams’ dilemma. They could sign Kubica in the race seat and cut a deal with Sirotkin for 6-10 FP sessions as test and reserve. That way they’ve got a Plan B if problems emerge with Robert’s fitness and capabilities later on.

It’s a tough call for them all over, though. Yes, Kubica represents a potential Top Tier (or at least Second Tier) driver for very little money, but the Yas Marina test wasn’t able to answer all the questions about him. With Pascal Wehrlein going begging after having answered his own doubters quite comprehensively, I think I’d be looking to him (and a discount from Mercedes, natch) instead. I’d love to see Kubica back, though.

26

Kubica ought to take on the motoring media as Lauda did upon his return to F1 after his horrific crash, ” . . as long as I have a right foot, I can drive.” I.e. as they say, Lauda was ‘throwing shade’ at the journalists as to their understanding of the sport and what it took to drive a car fast.

27

And he certainly proved his point in the process ! A most relevant post.

28
Tornillo Amarillo

Jake, is that Williams is putting pressure on Kubica to bring a sponsor, money, with him?
What is the finance for Williams next year, they may be fighting just for P6 or lower, getting backwards, save if the car matches for example Force India.
What could a different driver do to battle McLaren, Renault in the midfield next year? Better to take the Russian money?
But who will do the feedback for setup, is Sirotkin good enough for that?

29
Tornillo Amarillo

OH! The perfect combination of experience, speed and maybe Russian money could be… Danii Kvyat!

But he will be only 24 in April, 2018.

30
Clarks4WheelDrift

24 going on 54 the way he has been treated by Marko!

31

Would Kvyat be a a good choice in a team that historically has been averse to coddling their drivers? I know Daniil got the short end of the stick with Red Bull, but would Williams be the best bet for a return to F1?

32

Yes. He would be my choice no well and truly old enough to advertise alcoholic products in any country, unlike Stroll.

33

Today’s F1 funny is brought to you by Lego. That’s right, the friendly toy company has just released a new Lego set. But…but what can be wrong with a Lego set Sebee?

https://shop.lego.com/en-CA/MERCEDES-AMG-PETRONAS-Formula-One-Team-75883

Well, you see, it has cars #6 and #44, but both are driven by “yellow” mini figure faces. Now Lego has darker skin color faces to represent other ethnicities, but here in this set the #44 has been taken over by a “yellow” faced driver. Insensitive? Inaccurate? White washing? Or did Lewis not give Lego rights to his “image”? Whatever it is, that doesn’t look like Lego Lewis should look to me!

34
Clarks4WheelDrift

Kids won’t be bothered by that, they’ll just be interested in the Number 6 car and driver, you know the world champion…

If that’s a new lego set, they’re a year too late 😉

35

I admit that i saw this a few months back… perhaps Lego getting the driver’s permission to use their likeness may have been a bit more expensive. I note that the set doesn’t specifically say they are Lewis and Nico. Also, on the subject of colour, they didn’t really capture the Petronas teal either, and they have bricks of a more similar colour than flat green.

That said, in the early 2000s they made Ferrari sets and had Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa!

36

I have those Ferrari sets. The transport truck and the garage. I don’t like much modern lego, but they got me with those. And all the modular buildings. And that 41999…but not this weak Porsche 911. For that money it should have had power functions and lights.

Only set I regret not getting is that Williams F1 car. That was nice. At the time this guy built a Tyrell 6 wheeler, and it was so killer, by comparison it made the Williams car look weak.

37

…here is the link straight to the MOC (my own creations) page in case you have a hard time. Then just shuffle through the builds with the arrow in the top right corner above each model.

http://roscopc.it/#/2

…guys is a genius!

38

…just look at this Tyrell! This RoscoPC guys is a sick Lego genius. You should see the details around this build.

Anyhow…he’s here (link below) and he’s built tons of classic F1 cars to incredible detail level out of Lego. If there is a website worth looking at during off season, it is this one. These things should be sets to be honest.

http://roscopc.it/#/

39

Also, this Ferrari set isn’t accurate: https://shop.lego.com/en-CA/Scuderia-Ferrari-SF16-H-75879
The driver of #7 is actually smiling.

40
Clarks4WheelDrift

😉 Smiling, maybe because the lego set includes this piece for Kimi…

41

Ok…that made me laugh, hard!

42

Oh no. Two Japanese drivers in the Mercedes AMG Lego team?

43

That’s a really good point but I believe the only insensitive and inaccurate one here, is you Mr CB.

44

How so? Lewis is yellow and they have the accurate color stock available. Should kids only see yellow headed Lego F1 drivers? A decision was made here during set design, don’t doubt that for a second. Plus, why do Dads have to explain this error to their kids?

45

While we’re griping Sebee, remember when Lego was Lego? When each set was made up of a brilliant selection of standard pieces that could fit together to build whatever you wanted (even if it did end up looking like an F2012) and not a set of specialised custom pieces that could be used to build what they were meant to build?

*sigh*

Anyway, yellow face is easily fixed – Hollywood has been doing it for decades.

Just be prepared for a little internet backlash 😉

46

Random, you’ve just hit a serious pain point on that toy for me. It used to be a creative toy, and now it’s a 3D puzzle. You now build it and that’s that.

But if profitability and success are the measurement of the company, Lego right now with all the licences is really what has made it as successful as it is and most profitable ever, so how does your opinion and my agreement measure against what they’ve done to the product?

If you look at Lego Idea Book 6000 or 250 you can see that open creativity and possibility, and most importantly playability. You could buy a few sets and combined together you had tons of possibilities. Today…you can buy fifty sets and with all the specialized pieces and rainbow of colors you can’t build a darn thing. Even the sets don’t show any alternate models…at best you get a second model on the giant sets. Never mind the building styles, how hard it is to disassemble a finished build and how many tiny pieces frustrate small finger’s ability to handle them.

It used to be simple, offer limitless building possibilities, easy play. Now…it’s all a mess. But you should see my “secret stash”. I’ve got some sealed sets from 1978-1985 period that let me time travel back to that time. It’s much easier done to travel to Lego eras past than to travel back to V10 F1 era. Can’t keep a 20,000 RPM ready to fire F1 V10 around…safely. Plus even if you had one, it’s not the same as having 20 racing in anger.

47

What if Lewis was consulted by Lego and he is the one who chose the yellow Lego head for himself? 🙂

48

Whoever they go with I think Williams will once again not have a stellar lineup as was the case this year – it is sad to see WIlliams ‘scratching’ around like this. I think it would be crazy to take Kubica as at best he will be competent, but I guess the ‘edge’ won’t be there anymore. I don’t know a lot about Sirotkin – and the other names bandied about don’t get me terribly excited.

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