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Robert Kubica, the miraculous return to Formula 1 of a survivor

Robert Kubica, the miraculous return to Formula 1 of a survivor

Eight years after seeing his promising Formula 1 career come to a halt after a rally accident that left him serious consequences, the Polish Robert Kubica returns to the World Championship as Williams’ starting driver, where he hopes to compensate with his experience for his limitations physical.

At 34 years old, the one who was called before his accident to be a potential Formula 1 champion will have to demonstrate again his ability as a pilot, despite having a greatly diminished right arm.

The Pole was able to carry out tests in 2017 with Renault, the team with which he played his last Formula 1 championship in 2010, and in 2017 and 2018 with Williams.

When the British team announced that he would be a starting driver in 2019, having been a substitute driver for the previous year, boss Claire Williams hailed his “extraordinary determination and courage.”

Former Williams technical director Paddy Lowe -who has just left the team- assured for his part that he had not verified any physical handicap of the Pole in his driving during preseason tests in Barcelona in February.

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«Personally I have no worries. I think Robert’s speed is still impressive. When he has done 130 laps, the last one was as good as the first, “he stressed.

– ‘Difficult periods’ –

In his reconquest of Formula 1, Kubica has been supported by his old rival and friend Nico Rosberg, world champion with Mercedes in 2016 after having also passed through Williams (2006-2009).

«Robert has a talent of his own. Together with Lewis (Hamilton), he is the best driver I have seen in my 20-year career, ”says the German.

The life of the Pole, who arrived in Formula 1 in 2006, took a turn on 6 February 2011 during the Ronde di Andora rally in Italy. He sped off the road, lost control of his vehicle and ended up crashing into a safety barrier.

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He was badly damaged in one leg and both arms and his return to Formula 1 was seriously compromised because he had to undergo several operations.

«Before my accident, Formula 1 represented 90% of my life. When you lose all that in one day, it is not easy ”, Kubica admitted in August 2017.“ They have been very long years, with difficult periods ”.

But the Pole never gave up and started driving rallies again from July 2012. At the beginning of 2016, he tested endurance and his participation in the specialty World Championship was announced with the private team ByKolles Racing in 2017, although he resigned earlier. even starting the championship because his car had numerous technical problems.

– ‘Limitations’ –

Kubica is the first to acknowledge that his right arm “is not 100%”, but puts his experience first, with 76 Grands Prix and four and a half seasons under his belt, as well as a victory in Canada in 2008.

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Renault chose not to start him in 2018 to replace the disappointing Jolyon Palmer, preferring Carlos Sainz Jr. “Robert has limitations,” justified Cyril Abiteboul, the French team boss questioned by AFP.

“He has developed superhuman abilities that allow him to compensate, but it cannot always be compensated,” he added.

“There are situations (at the start, in rainy conditions) in which compensation has its limits. It was too risky for us and for him, ”he explained.

For Kubica, a fervent Catholic, this full-fledged return to the Formula 1 grid is in some ways a second miracle. In 2007, in Canada, he already emerged unscathed from an incredible accident in which his Sauber-BMW was disintegrated after several turns of the bell.

It was thanks, some said, to the name of Pope John Paul II, also Polish, which was written on his helmet. AFP

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