Robert Kubica got back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car on Tuesday, for the first time since the rally car crash that stalled his F1 career, back in February 2011.
The Pole completed 115 laps in the 2012 specification E20, during a private test for the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team, at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo.
Kubica has not raced in F1 since the rally car crash in Italy, where he partially severed his right arm. Prior to his accident, the Pole had been considered a future world champion in the making, with interest from the likes of Scuderia Ferrari amongst others knocking down his door.
It was his brilliant drives whilst racing for a mediocre BMW Sauber Team, where he raced from 2006-2009, and with the Renault Team in 2010, where he was equally impressive, that put the Pole well and truly on the top teams radars.
The Pole was competitive for Renault throughout the 2010 season, finishing in the top eight in fourteen out of the nineteen races (which included three podium finishes), and earning him eighth place overall in the standings. He was a naturally gifted talent, fast, skilful and determined, who could have gone on to great things had fate not dealt him a cruel blow.
The crash left Kubica with limited movement in his right arm and fingers, hampering his ability to turn the steering wheel of a F1 car. He has since taken part in the World Rally Championship, as well as testing several racing cars, to keep his racing dreams alive.
Kubica has previously stated he would like to compete in F1 again, if his arm healed enough to do so, but has lately realised that the likelihood of that happening is now slim. He was extremely grateful for the opportunity to once again drive a F1 machine however.
“I would like to thank everybody for making this possible, I hope it was a good day for everyone and maybe they saw something of my old, 2010 self.
“For me, it has been an important day from an emotional point of view. It has been a long time away from the paddock and I have been through difficult periods, I kept working hard and a few years ago I felt it was impossible.
“I have mixed feelings, I am proud with what I achieved today, but also it shows what I have lost. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I know one thing, after working for more than one year to prepare for this, I ran with good pace and consistent in difficult conditions.
“It is not easy after six years, but I knew I could do the job and I can be satisfied.
“I appreciate the opportunity. Renault gave me my first F1 test in 2005, so I appreciate another test this time around.”
Renault Sporting Director Alan Permane added that it was like turning back the clock to see Kubica in a F1 car again, but indicated that it was just a one-off outing for the Pole, and Renault’s way of helping him on his road to recovery.
“It was good to see Robert back in a Formula 1 car.
“It was a smooth day. We tried to condense a Grand Prix weekend into one day, which was interesting for him.
“Robert has changed a little, he is more mellow and he wasn’t as pushy when asking for every detail about the set-up of the car! His comments and feedback, however, were like turning the clock back for all of us.
“It is a tricky thing to jump into a F1 car after six years and it was a great performance from him.
“This was a one-off event for Robert. His time with Renault was cut short so abruptly and we perceived such a nice future with him.
“The team was in Valencia testing with Sergey Sirotkin, so it was the perfect opportunity to offer Robert a day in the car and contribute in our way to his recovery.”