Formula 1

Kubica close to Formula 1 comeback with 2019 Williams drive

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Robert Kubica - Formula 1 - 2018 Japanese GP
Credit: Williams Martini Racing

It is understood that Robert Kubica is to be announced as a full-time driver for Williams Martini Racing for 2019, with the Pole reportedly agreeing a deal with the team.

Kubica, who last competed in Formula 1 eight years ago, is expected to be formally announced during the upcoming Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend.

33-year-old Kubica had scored one victory in Grand Prix racing, with BMW Sauber in 2008, before a rallying accident during winter testing for the 2011 season while driving for Lotus-Renault left him with life-threatening injuries, including a severed right arm.

Speaking to the official Formula 1 podcast, Beyond The Grid, Kubica revealed that he had agreed a deal to join Scuderia Ferrari for 2012 before the accident. Ferrari made another approach for Kubica to become their 2019 development driver.

Kubica’s rehabilitation saw him make a competitive rally debut and walk away from a deal to drive with the ByKolles Racing Team LMP1 privateer outfit in the World Endurance Championship after a disastrous testing period for the team. In June 2017, Kubica completed a private test with the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team in a 2012-spec Lotus car at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo before partaking in the official August in-season test at the Hungaroring with the works Renault team.

After the French marque chose Carlos Sainz Jr. as their Jolyon Palmer replacement in late 2017, Kubica came onto Williams’ radar, completing the post-Abu Dhabi Pirelli Motorsport tyre test with the team. Although heavily linked with a race seat for 2018, Kubica was announced as official reserve driver as Williams opted for Sergey Sirotkin.

In 2018, Kubica has completed five days of testing and two official Free Practice 1 sessions – in Spain and Austria – and has made the choice to listen to the team’s offer of a full-time seat.

Sponsorship appeared to be the biggest obstacle facing Kubica’s comeback to Formula 1, however it is The Checkered Flag‘s understanding that a deal bringing roughly €25 million across two years to Williams has been agreed with oil refiner and petrol retailer PKN Orlen. The company’s logo will appear on the car and team apparel next season and it is believed that this is the largest sponsorship project in Polish history.

Kubica will join Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport junior and FIA Formula 2 series leader George Russell next year, as Williams have an overhaul of their driver line-up. Canadian Lance Stroll is expected to join the Racing Point Force India F1 Team, with Sirotkin’s future is currently unknown.

 

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