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“F1: For Kubica and the Fairytale, the Dream is Over”

September 20, 2019

Robert Kubica’s decision to leave Williams at the end of this season may prove to be the final hurrah for the Polish driver.

It is a sad epilogue for a driver who looked so promising and whose potential was unfulfilled.

The writing has been on the wall for quite some time. Such has been the colossal gap between Williams F1’s two drivers – Robert Kubica and George Russell – this season, it was looking desperately unlikely that the Pole would be retained for 2020.

Reports from Poland say that Kubica’s move from Williams may be a joint decision between the driver and his key sponsor PKN Orlen; however, both are looking for further opportunities at the top level of the sport. Whether that is as reserve or development driver with another team is unknown at this stage.

Should Kubica find a reserve/development seat with another F1 team, it does leave open the door for Pole to pursue at DTM drive for 2020 following discussions Kubica’s management recently had with Audi’s top brass.

It is a shame that Kubica’s F1 career may be ending in such a way. Prior to his accident at the Ronde di Andora rally in February 2011 – which partially severed his right arm – Kubica had taken one Grand Prix and was seen as a driver who could have been Poland’s first world champion.
Kubica’s recovery was slowed when he broke his leg a year later, but in 2013 he returned to second-tier rallying in the WRC2 class, before a stint in the European Rally Championship a year later. He progressed to the top level in the WRC in 2015; however, while he showed speed, he appeared to lack the finesse and the control often associated with rallying’s best and crashed numerous times as a result.
Toward the end of that bruising season, a colleague of Kubica mused that he was sometimes trying to drive the rally car as if it were a circuit racing car.

Kubica took part in the Monte Carlo Rally in 2016, before moving back to racing in GT3 competition, before testing the ByKolles LMP1 car with a view to racing in 2017, although he split with the team prior to the opening race of the WEC season. It is not known whether the ByKolles car was on fire at the time or not.
The Pole returned to F1 in 2017 and tested with Renault and later Williams and while the former declined to take the tests any further, Williams signed Kubica as reserve driver for 2018, before being promoted to the race seat at the start of this season.

In returning from such devastating injuries, Kubica displayed a tenacity and determination that could only impress. The background of his story may always be a case of “what could have been”, but the manner in which he fought against all odds to return to motorsport’s top category was truly fascinating and a incredible to watch.

Kubica’s departure increases the likelihood that Formula 2 racer Nicholas Latifi will move to a race seat Williams next year, with the Canadian bringing sponsorship from his father’s food company Sofina Foods Inc. among others.
Latifi has 24 of the required 40 points for his Super Licence and is currently sitting 2nd in the Formula 2 standings – albeit a long way adrift of championship leader Nyck de Vries – meaning the Canadian should have more than enough points to qualify to race in F1 next year {note 1}.

Whether Latifi’s promotion will result in expanded financial commitments from Sofina Foods (etc.) remains to be seen, but if nothing else, it would certainly prove a boost for a team who have been struggling for several years now.
There is no doubt that Latifi is a fine driver, but I have yet to be convinced that the Canadian is at the level of George Russell, although Latifi has impressed somewhat in the free practice sessions that he has driven in.

As an aside, Latifi’s father, Michael, controls Nidala (BVI) Ltd – an investment company that in 2018 invested £200 million in the McLaren Group.

{note 1}
Latifi only requires a 5th place finish in the F2 standings to qualify for a race Super Licence, a position he could solidify with ease at F2’s penultimate round in Sochi next weekend.

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