Robert Kubica is the only Polish driver in F1 history. He comes from the generation of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, and is as talented, if not more. Robert Kubica first earned himself a call-up to BMW Sauber in 2006. His performances on free practice Fridays were hard to ignore and that resulted in an early retirement for Jacques Villeneuve, because Kubica had been signed up full time. He scored his only pole and win in Canada 2008, and was one of the championship contenders that year, only for his BMW-Sauber team to terminate development of their car that year. He ultimately finished 4th that year. Another season with BMW Sauber followed before BMW decided to leave Formula 1. However, for a driver of his caliber, he didn’t remain a free agent for long and was immediately signed up to race for Renault. The Renault team was reeling from the Crashgate scandal, and had doubts over their future in F1. The car was under-developed that year, but that still didn’t stop Kubica from impressing.
During the 2011 pre-season test, Kubica set the fastest lap. On 6th February that year, he was taking part in the Ronde di Andorra rally, where he crashed into the church wall, injuring his arms and legs. He was left with a partially amputated right arm, and his career in motor sport was over. He, however returned to motor racing in 2013, and won numerous rally events. He return to open-wheel racing last year, when he tested a Formula E car.
However, it is this year that he has set people talking about a potential return to F1. He tested a 2012 Renault F1 car in a private test at Circuit Paul Ricard, and then participated in the in-season Hungary test, where he tested a 2017 Renault F1 car and racked up a mammoth 142 laps! There’s rumor going around that he might replace Palmer as early as this season, however the Pole has yet to comment on this.
If he returns, it’ll surely be a phenomenal return. Quite like Niki Lauda’s miraculous return just 1 month after his horrific accident at the German Grand Prix in 1976, when the Austrian had been given his last rites. He returned and won two championships.
In Robert Kubica’s case, it’s certainly not the case of ‘too little, too late’. He’s 32, about the same age as Vettel and Hamilton, and he was pretty quick in the in-season test. Some more honing of his skills, might bring the Pole back in the game, and even if he doesn’t win a world championship, it’ll still be a hero’s return.