Robert Kubica is a Formula 1 driver at Williams F1 team. Kubica, aged 34, is making his return to the F1 paddock in 2019 after a nine year absence following a life changing rally crash in February 2011. Kubica, who previously drove for BMW Sauber F1 team and Renault F1 team, was racing in rally for personal enjoyment and suffered a serious injury to his right forearm.
At Williams, he will be joined by 20-year-old George Russell who makes his debut in Formula 1. But how did Kubica perform in the early stages of his career? And how did he make his comeback? Read more to find out!
Robert Kubica’s route to Formula 1
Robert Kubica was born in Poland and became the first ever Polish driver to compete in a Formula 1 race. But his route to F1 began in the Polish Karting Championship. Kubica won six titles in just three years of competitive action before moving to compete in Italy. And it was Italy where Kubica set the field alight as he became the first non Italian to win the International Italian Junior Karting Championship.
From there, Kubica went on to enter the European Junior Karting Championships and International German Karting Championship. He performed well enough to impress Renault scouts. He signed as a test driver for Formula Renault 2000. Following a successful period in this series, he progressed to Formula Euro 3 and by 2005 he was testing Renault’s Formula 1 car.
Eye-catching start in Formula 1
In 2006, Robert Kubica was the reserve driver for BMW Sauber Formula One team and by August he was called into action as Jacques Villeneuve was deemed unfit to race following a series of headaches. In the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix, he out-qualified his team-mate Nick Heidfeld to line-up in ninth. Despite a positive and promising debut Grand Prix, Kubica’s seventh place was scrubbed off as he was disqualified for an underweight car.
In his debut Formula 1 season, Kubica picked up six points. The following season, Kubica finished fourth in three races and demonstrated his talents in full. In 2008, Kubica won his first Formula 1 race. He achieved the feat in Canada and at the time, led the world championship. He finished the season sitting fourth in the drivers’ standings. A disappointing 2009 season followed which led to a move to Renault for the 2010 season.
On February 6 2011, Kubica was apart of a near-fatal rally crash which left him with life-changing injuries. During the first stage of the Ronde di Andora Rally, Kubica was trapped in his car for over an hour as workers struggled to free the Polish driver.
Kubica required a two-hour operation having had several fractures in his arm. Kubica was retained in hospital for two months as he was confirmed unfit for both the 2011 season and 2012.
Road back to Formula 1
Kubica wasn’t out of a competitive racing car for too long. In September 2012, 19 months after the crash, he won the Ronde Gomitolo Di Lana rally and was a clear minute faster than any other driver. The Pole continued rallying until 2016 when he started racing in GT3. He also drove cars for LMP1 and Formula E but never competed. In 2017, Kubica retuned to a Formula 1 cockpit as Renault F1 team organised a test with their 2012 car.
He impressed and took part in the following post-Hungarian Grand Prix test completing 142 laps. Kubica wasn’t given a drive, but took up test and reserve driver for Williams Formula 1 team. During the 2018 season, he took part in a few free practice sessions before being announced as a full time driver for the 2019 season.