A on November 14, 2010 Robert Kubica was in Abu Dhabi last time at the start of a Formula 1 race. Eight years later, the Pole has now announced his return as a regular driver in the premier class. At a press conference on the roof of the team pavilion in the paddock of the desert course, the pilot and team boss Claire Williams confirmed on Thursday (November 22, 2018) that the contract for 2019 was finally signed.
'It was a long way to this moment. But now that I've finally made it back to Formula 1, a new challenge with Williams begins on the track, ”said the 76-time Grand Prix participant about his comeback. “To be back in Formula 1 is one of the greatest achievements of my life. Thanks to everyone who supported me and believed in me. I'll finally be back in the cockpit of a Formula 1 car. I can hardly wait to race again. ”
In principle, the man from Kraków had already reached an agreement with the team responsible in Brazil. Only minor issues, such as the number of Friday training sessions that had to be handed over to a third test driver, were still up for debate. There were also smaller details to be clarified with the driver's Polish sponsors, who will contribute a double-digit million sum to the team budget for the coming year. We at Williams have all been immensely impressed with his performance. Thanks to his strong character and perseverance, he is now returning to Formula One. With his dedication and hard work, he has become a highly respected member of the Williams team that season. His determination is just remarkable, he really embodies the typical Williams fighting spirit. ”
Fight back into the F1 cockpit
With the F1 comeback, the dream of many Kubica fans of many of whom certainly no longer believed in a return. After his serious rally accident before the 2011 season in Italy, in which Kubica almost died, the Pole first had to go through a long period of rehabilitation. Despite all efforts, the strength and mobility in the right arm could not be fully restored.
It was not until September 2012, a year and a half after the accident, that the driver celebrated his racing comeback in a small rally. The career really continued, however, only in 2013 with a few appearances in the World Rally Championship. By 2016, there were at least 40 starts in the all-wheel-drive premier class.
But Kubica really wanted to return to Formula 1 - despite the restrictions of the tight cockpit. In June 2017, Renault gave him the first chance to test drive a Formula 1 racing car, first in an old model, then in a current car. After the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Williams invited him to test drives. In doing so, Kubica was able to secure the job as a test and development driver for the 2018 season.
Support from Kubica sponsors
Kubica also left a good one with his assignments in Friday training sessions and test drives Impression of what laid the basis for the promotion to regular pilot in the 2019 season. Without the sponsors from his home country, the comeback would not have worked out. Because teammate George Russell was brought on board without a dowry and the main sponsor Martini will be leaving in the coming season, the team had to rely on a second driver with financial support.
At this point in time, the racing team did not want to announce how large the sponsors will be on the Williams chassis in the coming season. It is also unclear in which new color design the racing car will start after the distinctive Martini stripes have been removed. Williams wasn't the only option for Kubica, by the way. Ferrari had also made the 33-year-old an offer. But only as a simulator driver.
For Kubica, the task of racing again and bringing Williams forward was more appealing: “It will certainly not be easy, but it will be with hard work and the necessary determination George and I together are helping Williams get back into shape and move further up the field. This year was tough, but I learned a lot. ”
Claire Williams is also hoping for a sporting turnaround with the new driver line-up:“ The promotion of Robert to regular driver is an important step on our way back to the front end the starting grid. I'm happy that we were able to sign a good mix of youth and experience and I'm really looking forward to the results on the track. ”
In the gallery we still have some pictures of Robert Kubica's rocky road to F1 comeback.