How Kubica's F1 Racing Dream Was Put On Hold
Autosport|January 18,2018

How Kubica’s F1 Racing Dream Was Put On Hold

Lawrence Barretto

IT ALL STARTED WITH A HARMLESS conversation.Williams was evaluating its driver options for 2018; Robert Kubica wanted to find out whether he still had the ability to drive a Formula 1 car at a high level after sustaining life-threatening injuries in a rally crash in 2011.

Renault started the evaluation; Williams picked up the baton. The two parties met to discuss how they could help each other out. Tests in the 2014-specWilliams car were useful, but they could not give the team enough information to judge Kubica’s ’18 potential. The cars have changed dramatically in the past four years – he needed to test a ’17 car.

So Williams ran him in the post-season Pirelli test in Abu Dhabi. His long-run pace, as far as can be analysed from a tyre test, was solid but not spectacular. His short run pace, less so. But together it was not enough to rule him out of contention. That is until his data was put alongside Sergey Sirotkin’s.

Sirotkin was a latecomer to the Williams party. The Russian fulfilled reserve-driver duties for Renault last season. Renault says he is quick and that his technical feedback is strong. Initially, Williams was evaluating him as a potential reserve but, as it had an opportunity to put him in the car in Abu Dhabi, it did so. He got equal time to Kubica and, while they ran different programmes, making comparisons of lap times irrelevant, Williams could still compare the two.

When the test ended, Williams had a problem on its hands. Kubica, the driver it wanted to succeed, was on paper not the best option based on initial analysis.

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