When Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN launched the C41, in the Grand Theatre in Warsaw it was also the fist glimpse we got of the two drivers this season for Alfa Romeo: Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen and reserve driver Robert Kubica in their new race-suits for the 2021 season.
Kubica, will undergo his second season with the team as their official reserve driver and although the polish driver would rather have a full-time drive in Formula 1, he is no doubt very grateful for the continued opportunity to drive the car whilst participating in various different Free Practice sessions, driving last year at the Styrian, Hungarian Bahrain and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix’s.
“I’m happy to be back for a second season in Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN as a reserve driver. As a driver you always would like to race, but for this year my position in the team remains the same as last year,” said Kubica. “Of course, the collaboration is getting stronger and stronger as time goes by: last year I joined the team and now I know everyone much better, which is going to help the work we do. 2020 was a difficult year because of COVID-19, but we stuck together as a team, we worked together and definitely we hope this season is going to be a better one for us.”
Kubica’s role will be relatively similar to his role the year before, he is expecting to again participate in Free Practice sessions and pre-season testing which this year will be held at the Bahrain International Circuit. Kubica’s role will also be very important off the track where he will partake in a plethora of simulator work, a tool that Alfa Romeo want to pursue further so that it becomes even more powerful for the Swiss-based team’s development.
“My role within the team is quite clear and reflects what I did last year, when you could see me driving during some FP1 sessions last year and also in pre-season testing in Barcelona. Of course, as a team we have started working on our simulator, a technology that is becoming more and more relevant in our sport: it is still a relatively new tool for the team, so right now we are improving it with the aim to turn it into a very powerful technical tool for development.”
Kubica has already got some racing experience under his belt in 2020 racing at the Daytona 24 hours and this season plans to participate in a full season of the European Le Mans Series. Kubica does recognise the difficulty of competing in two series especially in the current climate, but as a racing driver feels the need to compete in a series.
“As in 2020, I will be racing in another series alongside my commitment with Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN. Whereas I raced in DTM last year, this season I will have a full ELMS campaign: it’s quite a different type of races and a different approach because they are endurance races, but as a driver you want to race, you want to feel the adrenaline. In Formula One, my position is very clear, but I didn’t want to stick to just one discipline: in the end, racing is my life. Actively competing also helps me keep sharp and at the best of my abilities, which in turns is beneficial for the work I do with Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN. Certainly, running two campaigns in COVID times is not easy, both for the logistics and for the compressed calendars.”
Robert is extremely grateful for the support he has received and the large following he has maintained despite not racing in formula 1 in 2020. For the polish driver the crowd has been the thing that he really missed but despite this he still managed to spot some polish flags among the empty grandstands.
“For sure, the fans were what we missed the most about last year, not only in Formula 1 but generally in motorsports. Fans play such an important role and I have to say that Formula 1 is not the same without them on the grandstands. Hopefully we can welcome them back sooner rather than later. On a personal side, it’s always nice to see Polish flags in the stands – I even saw some when there were no spectators. I don’t know how Polish fans manage to do so, but obviously it’s something very nice and it really makes me feel their support. I really appreciate that.”
Being Polish, the launch was a very special day for Kubica as it was held in Warsaw. Being the first Polish Formula 1 driver, Kubica has had the opportunity to see the sport growing in his home country and acknowledges Alfa Romeo’s title sponsor ORLEN for their efforts in doing so.
“Since I became the first Polish Formula One driver, the sport has grown a lot there and this makes me proud. There has always been a lot of passion for motorsport in general in Poland, and of course ORLEN is doing a great job to promote the sport. Having the first-ever team launch in the country is really special, I am sure it will be a great boost not only for the fans but for the country as a whole.”
Fans of both Robert Kubica and Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN do not have to wait long to see the car on track with the team choosing to take their filming day on the 26th of February and pre-season testing commencing at the Bahrain International Circuit on the 12th of March.