PKN Orlen will be forgiven for being nervous ahead of their first season in Formula 1 with the Williams team, the giant Polish oil refiner and petrol retailer forking out substantial money to get the country’s favourite racer back on the grid after a near-decade absence.
Robert Kubica’s remarkable story is well told, that he is back in Formula 1 is a near miracle, but Williams’ state of unreadiness and disarray ahead of the new F1 season threatens to turn the fairytale comeback into a very sad story.
After his final day of 90 laps testing in the FW42 at Circuit de Catalunya last week, Kubica told reporters reported, “We had some issues. Unfortunately, the car was not representative to what it should be.”
“This had a big impact on our test, our running programme today. All the information was misleading and some way [it was] also difficult to get some information, any information for Australia.”
“There were some positive things, but as I said it’s difficult to say [if] it moved forward when actually you are staying in the garage or you are running in the car which is not in the configuration it should be. It’s difficult to get any valid information, any valid feedback.”
Williams under the technical direction of Paddy Lowe has been a disaster, with last year’s terrible car his first offering and now his second effort woefully late and apparently way off the pace of their rivals, exacerbated by three missed days of testing.
Kubica, 34, remains level headed amid the crisis engulfing the Grove outfit, and added, “First of all we have to solve our issues. I think there is no point us talking about upgrades if we have to still recover our problems.”
“Anyway when the car was in proper configuration, let’s say, which unfortunately it wasn’t, the feeling was not bad. But I think performance-wise first you have to solve the issues, then think about performance otherwise it’s confusing.”
“Some of the issues were as a consequence of being in a rush. If you struggle to have a car for the week before, you struggle to have spare parts. And unfortunately [on Friday] it was required to have bits to replace, and we couldn’t replace them.”
“We did maximum from what we have, but this maximum is not enough because in the end, the car was from optimal,” revealed the Pole.
His backers PKN Orlen are said to have forked out $15-million to Williams for Kubica’s place on the grid in 2019, beginning at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on 17 March in Melbourne.
Last season, both Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin paid for their drives with the team, but after a forgettable season the Stroll’s packed their bags and bought another team while SMP Racing told all and sundry that another season for their driver with Williams would be a waste of money.