How has Robert Kubica managed to return to F1 eight years after he nearly severed his arm in horrific rally crash?
- Robert Kubica’s arm was nearly severed in an horrendous rally accident in 2011
- Kubica has now been named one of Williams’ drivers for the 2019 season
- The team have been forced to deny that it is a move made for financial benefits
- Fellow drivers including Lewis Hamilton are thrilled to see the popular Pole back
Robert Kubica will return to a Formula One race seat eight years after his right arm was nearly severed in an horrendous rally accident.
News that he will drive for Williams next season was confirmed in the paddock ahead of Sunday’s season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and it was met with both delight and concern.
Delight that one of the star karters of his generation — rated by Lewis Hamilton as his greatest boyhood rival — has completed a recovery that has taken every drop of his fortitude since a barrier cut through the middle of his Skoda while he was competing in an extra-curricular rally, the Ronde di Andorra, in Italy in 2011.
Robert Kubica’s return to F1 nearly eight years after a horrific arm injury has been confirmed
The Polish driver nearly lost his arm after this crash in Ronde di Andorra rally in 2011
Yet there is concern that the scars the well-liked Pole wore on his right arm during the unveiling will never allow him to perform to the rarefied standard that won him 12 podiums with BMW.
Deputy team principal Claire Williams insisted Kubica’s new role was awarded on merit, but many think the promotion, from development and reserve driver, is due to backing. It is said he brings some £9million.
Kubica had certainly not lit up the timing screens in numerous tests over the last couple of seasons, but he will partner British rookie George Russell next season.
‘I understand it is a story that probably nobody would believe,’ said Kubica. ‘Probably the only one who never gave up hope was me. ‘We all knew it might be unachievable. But this shows nothing is impossible.’
Kubica believes it shows that ‘nothing is impossible’ and admits his driving style has changed
Williams deputy team prinicipal Claire Williams had to deny it was a move made for finances
Kubica has changed his driving style, using his left hand more. ‘My medical results for speed and force of the left arm was at least 35 per cent better than the best they had seen before,’ he added.
‘Somehow your body adapts to reality. So when I’m driving, I’m 70 per cent left-handed and 30 per cent right.’
Hamilton welcomed his return. The world champion was sitting next to Fernando Alonso, whose last race this is.
His departure would make Hamilton the second oldest man on the grid behind Kimi Raikkonen, 39, but for Kubica being one month older — his 34th birthday is next month.
The scars on his arm are visible and there is a concern he won’t reach his previous standards
‘I’m pleased he is older,’ laughed Hamilton. ‘And I’m glad he has this chance. I hope he gets his strength up.’ As do we all.
Meanwhile, Max Verstappen refused to back down over his argy-bargy with Esteban Ocon after the Frenchman took out the race leader in Brazil.
Verstappen, ordered to complete two day’s public service by the FIA, said: ‘What do you expect me to do, shake his hand and say thank you very much?’