Polish driver Robert Kubica will test a Mercedes DTM touring car in Spain this week but any Formula One return remains a long way off as he continues his rehabilitation from a near-fatal rally accident.
New Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff told reporters on Tuesday that the former BMW-Sauber and Renault F1 driver would be testing with the HWA Mercedes-Benz team at the Valencia circuit.
“We all obviously like Robert, he’s a very special chap and what we want to do with Mercedes-Benz is give him a chance doing a proper test in a proper race car and seeing how he goes on and how he feels,” he said.
“This is what we will be doing in the next days and I’m very glad that he’s able to do that. He’s very much looking forward to it and he’s very excited. Let’s see how it goes.”
Wolff said that Kubica was not yet 100 percent fit and had not driven a car with such downforce since he suffered severe arm and hand injuries while competing in a minor rally in Italy in February 2011.
Asked whether Mercedes might give him a run in an F1 car if the test was successful, the Austrian said that such a move was not on the horizon.
“If the DTM test goes well and we see that he is doing well in a proper race car with downforce, I think there are still some physical constraints to drive a monocoque (single seater) chassis with his elbow and arm,” he said.
“I think we all would love to see Robert doing well in an F1 car in the future but [it] is definitely too early at this stage.”
Kubica, Poland’s first and only Formula One racer, who was a grand prix winner with BMW-Sauber in 2008, was considered a champion of the future before he had his accident.
The Pole has competed in and won minor rallies as part of his rehabilitation. He said last September that he was still hoping to return to F1 eventually but acknowledges that he might never return to the same physical level as before.
The Mercedes DTM car has a V8 engine delivering some 500 brake horsepower, compared to in excess of 750 bhp for a Formula One V8. (Reuters)