With news that Carlos Sainz Jr. has signed for the Renault Sport F1 Team for 2018, it seems a return to the team for Robert Kubica is now off the cards. Kubica’s manager is keen to point out however, that other teams, not just Renault, are interested in signing the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix winner.
Kubica made his first appearance at a grand prix race weekend since 2010 at the recent Italian Grand Prix, basing himself at the Pirelli motorhome rather than any specific team.
His manager, Alessandro Alunni Bravi, admitted that Kubica’s situation has been complicated by Renault saying it needed more answers, coupled with there being no opportunity for him to test the current car again until the Abu Dhabi test in November.
“Robert was just here to say hello to some friends,” Bravi told Motorsport.com.
“Because he’s never come back to the paddock during a race weekend, he just did Hungary, which was out of a grand prix weekend.
“So it was a good opportunity for him. He has no problem to come back to the F1 paddock. For him it’s very natural to be here, to say hello to some friends. There was no other purpose for this visit.
“People are pushing him, showing him how much they would like him to come back to F1. This is an extra boost. He’s very happy to listen to all the positive comments and to see all the people pleased to see him here.”
When asked if there had been interest from teams other than Renault, Bravi said: “For sure the result of the test was much more positive than everyone was expecting, also in the F1 paddock. So there is some interest around him, in F1, out of F1.”
If, indeed, Kubica doesn’t land a drive in Formula 1 for 2018, Bravi confirmed that the Pole would seek a drive in LMP1 sportscars. Bravi also admitted that there had been no firm developments since Kubica’s successful test at the Hungaroring.
“He’s happy, relaxed, and as we always said, we go step-by-step. The test with Renault in Hungary was very positive, in terms of performance, in terms of consistency. Robert had a very good feeling.
“What we can say after the test is that now Robert has no doubts, and he can drive an F1 car without limitations.
“The next step is still unknown. We are still looking around, and trying to understand which is the best step for him. We have no rush, because there will be no more tests until the end of the season.
“This period, I don’t want to call it ‘standby’, because we are always working for the future and we never stopped working, but there is nothing really to say. It’s just a matter of finding the opportunity, and finding the team that would really be convinced to have him.”
Bravi denied that either Kubica or himself took the opportunity to talk with other teams in Monza, or that there was any significance attached to him not wearing Renault colours; this has since perhaps been explained by the announcement that Sainz Jr. has signed alongside Nico Hulkenberg for next season.
“There is no strategy. Robert decided to come here at the last moment, nothing was planned, and there is nothing behind the scenes, I would say. He was just happy to jump into the paddock. We are so thankful to Renault for the opportunity they gave.
“I think that everybody saw what Robert can do, and I don’t think the paddock is the right place to speak to people. He’s just relaxing, not thinking about F1, not thinking about meetings.”