Although few are saying it the truth is that Robert Kubica’s test, in Abu Dhabi this week, is his proverbial ‘D-Day’ as Williams have one last opportunity to evaluate the Pole in the cockpit of the current generation Formula 1 car.
It is well known that the 2017 cars are much more physically demanding than their recent predecessors, fatter tyres and extremely powerful engines make the task for drivers a great deal tougher to drive than they were last year.
Kubica, who has limited use of his right arm, as a result of his rally accident in 2011, has made a remarkable comeback. He returned to rallying in 2012 and won the WRC2 title with Citroen in 2013, winning five rallies in his class that year.
Since then he has also tried his hand at WEC, signing for ByKolles Racing in 2017 but not progressing with the team and also did a Formula E test in May.
This year he was evaluated by Renault, completing an official test for the team in Hungary which by all accounts was a success. However, the French team opted to sign Carlos Sainz instead.
With Felipe Massa retiring this year, a seat became available at Williams for 2018. Kubica was among several drivers being considered for the coveted place on the F1 grid with the Grove outfit. As it stands, it appears that the Pole is top of the list of contenders, hence the Abu Dhabi test to further evaluate his capabilities to compete at the highest level.
Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe explained, “We all saw how he operated in Formula 1 in the past – he’s a great driver, very professional, very committed, enthusiastic, very intelligent. He’s an exciting prospect, that’s why we’re looking at him.”
“We’re in a process with Robert, which is a matter of evaluating whether his injuries will have an impact on his ability to drive in Formula 1, it’s as simple as that. There are a few changes we’ll make for switch gear and so on.”
“In actual fact, most drivers tune that to their preferences anyway. In most teams, you’ll find the steering wheel is different between the two drivers,” added Lowe.
One of the stumbling blocks regarding Kubica’s return is the question of a hefty insurance payout he received, after his rally accident, on the proviso that he would not return to professional racing. Apparently, this issue is now resolved and now what remains before the final nod is his fitness to fully operate a Formula 1 car.
Kubica is driving for Williams at the Abu Dhabi Pirelli test this morning (Tuesday) before handing the car over to Lance Stroll. He will be in action again on Wednesday afternoon, taking over from Sergey Sirotkin who will be on duty in the morning stanza.
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) November 28, 2017