Pirelli Motorsport’s racing manager Mario Isola says that Robert Kubica has done enough to warrant a Formula 1 comeback.
The Pole’s first stint in F1 was cut tragically short by the effects of a horrendous rally accident in February 2011 that almost cost him his right arm and his life.
In June 2017, Kubica tested a F1 car for the first time in six years at Valencia, courtesy of the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team, completing 115 laps in a 2012 spec Lotus E20. In the August of that year, the 33-year-old made a return to current machinery, taking part in the official in-season test at the Hungaroring in the Renault RS.17.
Whilst the Renault door closed, courtesy of the arrival of Carlos Sainz Jr. as outcast Jolyon Palmer‘s replacement, Kubica was firmly in the running to take the retiring Felipe Massa’s drive at Williams Martini Racing – appearing at the end of season tyre test in Abu Dhabi.
However, with Russian rookie Sergey Sirotkin and his SMP Bank finances preferred over Kubica to partner Lance Stroll, the one-time Grand Prix winner has been siphoned into a reserve role for 2018 with the Grove team.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Isola said that whilst Kubica still needs time to readapt to Formula 1 and further his understanding of its new era, a return would befit him.
“The point is that he was not driving since long time and needed some time to adapt,” Isola said.
“I believe he did a good job, honestly. Then, the decision to take one driver or another is a different story.”
“I’m not criticising the decision. I’m just saying, for me, he deserves the opportunity, the possibility to show us his potential again.”
Isola added that the 2018 cars are highly different machines to the 2010 and 2011 cars that Kubica last drove in anger, and would take more than a few test days to master.
“Consider also we are talking about a 2017 car that is a lot different from the 2011 car; also the 2016, so it was a different car with a much better performance.”
“”He had to learn to the car. Also, it was two sessions of half a day each, so to learn all the package is not so easy.”
“He’s not a young driver but clearly he needs some time to adapt to the new situation. For me, considering all that, the performance was more than good.”
Kubica has been driving with modified controls in order to ease the burden of a lack of dexterity in his right arm, but Isola believes that this aside, Kubica has no limitations and showed his could drive the car safely.
“I don’t believe he has any limitation.”
“He was able to drive the car as the others [did]. I didn’t see any limitation.”