Robert Kubica to miss start of 2012 season

2012 F1 season

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Robert Kubica, Renault, Valencia, 2011

Robert Kubica will not return to F1 in time for the start of the 2012 season, Renault has confirmed today.

A statement issued by the team said: “Robert Kubica has today informed Lotus Renault GP that, despite having started an intensive training programme, it is still too early for him to commit to driving in the 2012 championship.

“Robert’s progress remains impressive – he can now walk freely, and move his hand and elbow -, but he feels that he needs more time to return to full fitness.

“Lotus Renault GP remains committed to helping Robert as much as possible in his recovery process. A test car is ready and waiting for him, and a dedicated crew is on stand-by. Of course, Robert will remain a member of the LRGP family in 2012 and he is already, through his management, holding talks about renewing his contract for the following season.

“Although very disappointed by the news, Lotus Renault GP will start assessing its options and will evaluate the most suitable candidate to drive from the first 2012 winter testing session. Once again, all the members of Lotus Renault GP wish Robert a full and speedy recovery as we say: ‘Szybkiego powrotu do zdrowia’ – Get well soon our friend.”

Kubica said: “Even if I’ve been working very, very hard over the course of the last few weeks, I came to the conclusion that I am not yet certain to be ready for the 2012 season. I have called the team and I have informed them of the situation.

“This was a difficult decision to make, but it is the most reasonable one. I also know that LRGP need to prepare for next year, and further extending deadlines would not have been the right thing to do.

“On a personal level, my recovery is still very encouraging and my doctors keep being impressed. I just need more time, as I want to be 100% ready before I commit to anything driving related.

“Finally, I regret not having been able to provide more news and not having appeared in the papers, and I thank my friends of the media for understanding that this has been the best way for me to cope with what has been the most difficult period of my life.”

Team principal Eric Boullier said: “Everybody in the team is, of course, very disappointed today. Robert not driving in Australia at the start of next season is not what we were all hoping for.

“However, he has taken a very mature decision, acting in the best interests of Lotus Renault GP. As a team and as a family, we remain 100% behind him and we’ll help as much as we can. A programme composed of simulator testing, single-seater and F1 track time is awaiting him.

“In the meantime, we will start talking to a few drivers in order to finalise our line-up for next year as soon as possible. Robert will take it step by step and will jump back in his racing car when he feels it is the right moment to do so. On behalf of all 520 members of the team, I wish him a speedy recovery.”

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Keith Collantine
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82 comments on “Robert Kubica to miss start of 2012 season”

  1. It’s interesting that they say he won’t start the season, perhaps Kubica will feature in a Friday practise at some point in the season, we already know he’ll be driving a Renault 2.0 and FR3.5 soon, too soon for proper F1 driver, but a Friday here and there could help evaluate him for 2013.

    1. too soon for a proper f1 drive*

    2. Renault have already indicated that if Kubica can race in 2012, they will make a seat available to him – even if he is only ready halfway through the season.

      1. Indeed, it wouldn’t be surprising if he did a few practise sessions first though.

        A lot of the FR3.5 drivers had noted that the F1 steering was much lighter than their normal cars. Considering the injuries to his arm / hand driving a FR3.5 should give him more than an idea if his recovery is successful, should also indicate his fitness levels too.

        1. Well, ever sicne the accident, I’ve thought the best way forward would be for Kubica to do a seaosn in GP2 or Formula Renault 3.5 – while returning to Formula 1 is the ultimate goal, there is no hurry. I’m sure Kubica would much prefer to take a year to get back into condition than to rush back into Formula 1.

          1. Well said, he shouldn’t be trying to rush it, better that he gets himself as fit and strong and eager as possible before doing races. Friday practices seems like a good idea, in addition to something like GP2 to maintain his race-craft.

          2. @bosyber @prisoner-monkeys I would agree that going in GP2/WSR machinery first would be good for his rehabilitation; but I shudder to imagine what would happen to his reputation should he not feature on the podium, or even be competitive.

          3. Guys, I’m sorry to say it, but all the indications are that Kubica won’t drive again, FULL STOP. He’s only now walking unassisted, and has only regained (presumably slight) movement in his hand. Also the fact we’ve not even seen any pictures of him since the accident tells a story.

            Of course the Renault and Kubica press releases put a positive spin on everything, but it’s extremely naive to take it all at face value. Your talk of a season in GP2 is more than a bit daft at this point.

          4. @mhop, that’s the saddest thing but i’m afraid is seems to be true.

      2. I guess that is largely dependent on how well their driver line up is doing next year. Although it could be a fairly inexperienced line up, they could exceed performance expectations, leaving Kubica out of the picture.

  2. I suppose this was inevitable.
    As I’m holding out hope, word choice is critical. He won’t [i]start[/i] the season, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t [i]finish[/i] it in the car, in preparation for a full season in 2013.

  3. I’ve never thought Robert would be in any way ready for 2012, sadly it seems so. But hey – he’s alive and even if he never comes back to motorsport, he’s just about back to normal levels of health and fitness. He’s already won in my book.

    1. Remember the people saying he could be back by Hungary this year?

      Agree with you on how great it is that he is up and going at all, and looks like having a good chance at driving cars in some form of racing is already an extra bonus.

      1. On some Polish sites I saw people were claiming that he’d be back by Monaco and would win every race on his way to the championship. Deluded people, but it does make you realise just how big Kubica is (was?) in Poland.

  4. Very disappointing now they will be looking for a new driver
    in my opinion there’s no driver available in the grid who can replace robert
    maybe they will seriously consider the option of Kimi Raikonnen

    1. @tifoso1989

      maybe they will seriously consider the option of Kimi Raikonnen

      That’s incredibly unlikely. Williams want to do a deal with the Qataris to sponsor them. As a condition of this deal, the Qataris want Williams to run Raikkonen. The deal only works because Williams have an existing relationship with Qatar; Renault do not. Williams is the only team Raikkonen can join.

      1. Middle-Eastern sponsors strike again! But if it brings Iceman back into the sport, I’m all for it.

        1. It’s hardly a bad thing – it’s not like they’re asking Williams to run someone like Rodolfo Gonzalez in the place of a driver like Alonso.

        2. @PieLighter There are reports that the sponsor for Kimi lost interest, and now they are gonna go with Bottas….

      2. Eric Boullier said that he want a top driver in my opinion
        the only top driver available is Kimi Raikonnen or Bouiller has a different definition for a top driver
        as for Williams the situation is not clear besides Raikonnen there’s Valtteri Bottas GP3 champion & with important sponsorship

        1. He said he wanted a top driver – but he also said that it would be possible to develop a driver over the next two years.

          And after spending two seasons out of the sport, Raikkonen is hardly a top driver – and that’s without taking into account his unfamiliarity with DRS, Pirelli tyres and fuel-heavy cars.

          1. “Raikkonen is hardly a top driver “, do you no tthink that is a tad harsh @PrisonerMonkeys? I mean look at JB, he’s having a great season but only beat Kimi in 2 out of 9 seasons they were competing in before. I think it was Mansell who said in 2007 “if they can’t adapt to the new regs in 3 laps then they’re not top drivers”

          2. No, I don’t think it was harsh at all. Raikkonen might have a top driver when he left the sport, but he has no experiece with DRS, Pirelli or fuel-heavy cars. Just one of these rules would leave serious questions about a driver’s ability, but Riakkonen has to answer to all three. For some reason, people seem to think he can be compeittive from the get-go, but there is no way this is remotely possible.

          3. But there is no proof that he will be slow. DRS is a non-event, a complete non-event for a world champion driver. The Pirelli’s could be an issue but Raikkonen was immense when it came to traction control and I very much doubt he will struggle so badly that he can’t maximise the potential of his car. Massa aside, I see no performance indication that says that one driver was significantly better or worse since refuelling was banned. IMO, a hungry Raikkonen is still well capable of a beating a number of ‘top’ drivers atm namely MW and FM. Kimi was a top 3 car three years after his first ever car race. The guy is exceptional and a bad run at the start of 2009 and a lack of motivation shouldn’t condem him to a has-been imo, although I respect your stance on it.

          4. DRS is a non-event, a complete non-event for a world champion driver.

            Except that it allows a driver to run a higher lever of downforce than he normally would, fundamentally changing the behaviour of the car. Likewise the fuel-heavy cars (which I see you’re completely ignoring.

            The Pirelli’s could be an issue but Raikkonen was immense when it came to traction control

            The Pirellis behave in a compeltely different way to the Bridgestones Raikkonen was using before he left.

            I’m sorry, but Kimi Raikkonen has a lot of homework to do before he can reach his full potential if is to return. Michael Schumacher struggled with the rule changes when he returned last year, and he was far more talented than Raikkonen. The idea that Raikkonen can somehow overcome the barriers to re-entry simply because he is Raikkonen is a fan fantasy. Likewise the idea that he will race for any team other than Williams.

          5. @rbalonso you are right about this

            But there is no proof that he will be slow.

            But thats not the thing a team like Renault will want to know before signing a driver anyway.

            They are looking for a driver who is proven to be quick and able to win

          6. But the downforce is for a given car, I don’t get what that implies. Kimi raced in 2009 which was much lower dowforce than now and 2008 which was much higher. DRS is also the same for everybody.

            I’m not ignoring the fuel side at all, “Massa aside, I see no performance indication that says that one driver was significantly better or worse since refuelling was banned”.

            The pirellis are different from the bridgestones which were different to the Michelins etc. The Michelins allowed the drivers to be far more aggressive on turn in which is why Fernando struggled and changed many things (like the brakes at canada) to try to regain his aggressive style. My point being Kimi won a championship on bridgestones despite winning 9 races on Michelins.

            My point is not to argue with you but I just think that writing a guy off who was worshipped by many (not me) as little as four years ago is a little pre-mature. The formula has not changed so much that a top, top driver becomes a minnow. If you insist on using Schumi then we may well include Rubens. Rubens raced thru the changes and hes slow now. Is that because he was out the game or just got older? Schumi is in the same boat. Kimi is 10 years younger than MS. At that stage in his career MS was only a triple champ. that proves kimi still has time on his side imho.

          7. You compare Schumacher to Raikkonen PM – the fact is, Schumi was out for 3 years whereas Raikkonen 2. In Schumi’s 3 years, the car shape changed drastically PLUS fuel-heavy PLUS slicks. In Raikkonen’s time out, the fundamental regs haven’t changed with regards to wing size, sidepod bits etc. IMO Pirelli and DRS are not as big as car shape and grooved->slicks in terms of change. Plus Raikkonen is younger. All this points to a quicker return to form for Raikkonen than Schumacher. That is, if he can be bothered.

          8. @pielighter

            In Schumi’s 3 years, the car shape changed drastically PLUS fuel-heavy PLUS slicks. In Raikkonen’s time out, the fundamental regs haven’t changed with regards to wing size, sidepod bits etc.

            Except that Schumacher already had experience in racing fuel-heavy cars, and he learned about the Pirelli tyres and F-ducts at the same time as everyone else did.

          9. @prisoner-monkeys I’m not talking about the RW80. I’m talking about the massive change from 2008 to 2009, and in 2006 cars had less rubbish on the sidepods than in 2008. That would have been a huge change, even for a 7-time champion.

          10. Plus grooved to slick would have been big, even though it was an improvement. And the fact that the tyres from 2007 onwards were not tailor-made for Schumacher and everyone else had to cope. Everyone has equal opportunity in terms of tyres now.

          11. Raikkonen is in my opinion the kind of driver who can adapt easily to new technical reglementation / environment. As already said, he has proven it by going from Mclaren to Ferrari (and thus from Michelin to Bridgestone), won the first race and the championship after that unchallenged by his teammate (who already knew both the team and the tyres).

            What I would more question is his training / fitness level after two years out of the category. And I don’t think the guy has reputation for commitment is this area.

          12. PM for a teacher you have a very negative approached to things. Say

            “there is no way this is remotely possible

            is a discredit to anyone. Anything is possible. Kimi is younger than Michael and may adapt quicker, as for you comments to whether or not can he be bothered, i’m guessing you are referring to his final year at Ferrari? It be naive to not understand that relationship had gone sour and Kimi’s body language and attitude were affected by that.

          13. Yes, PM, Schumacher did have experience of fuel-heavy cars – fifteen years ago! Kimi would adapt to heavy cars quickly. He’s a very intelligent driver. He would also adapt to DRS very quickly. Everyone else managed it.

            In 2007, Kimi also switched from McLaren, running Michelin tyres, to Ferrari, on Bridgestones.

            He won the title.

  5. I do hope he recovers fully, but I can’t say I’ve noticed him not being on the grid this year. I haven’t missed him being on the grid, and I doubt he’d be much higher in the standings than Petrov is now if he had been. Not with the car that Renault have given them this year.

    1. Totally agree. Whilst it’s a shame we don’t have him racing, there’s such a depth of talent at the moment that it doesn’t leave such a gaping hole on the grid as it might have done had it been a few years ago.

    2. It was great seeing him challenge some of the front runners last year, but like with Rosberg, the gap between the top 3 teams and the rest of the grid (even Mercedes) has been too great for him to be able to make the same impact.

    3. You trigger me @ajokay :
      We haven’t seen Kubica around the paddock or anywhere else. I can’t remember if Schumacher came to watch the races on crutches and I won’t imply that Kubica should make an appearance…

      …but I guess my point is that it just underlines what a heavy mentally blow this accident has been for Robert. It seems he just couldn’t face anyone from the F1 world. I now even wonder if some of Bouilliers statements were meant like: ‘Hey Robert, I know you’re depressed about all this, but pick up the phone!’

      In the end I hope this makes him even more eager to return and show the world his abilities. But still, I fear.

      1. Bouilliers statements in the last few weeks certainly sounded like they were meant that way: we are here for you, support you, will wait for you, but please help us decide so we can start preparing for next year; don’t worry there’s a seat ready and waiting when you are.

    4. Not much higher than petrov? At least twice more points,
      far better car development, and probably great hardcore runs at Monaco (as always).

      Petrov is poor. Senna the same.

  6. I hope he doesn’t commit to LRGP for 2013, if it is Ferrari who are interested in him I think seeing him and Fernando under one roof would be interesting. Maybe another 2007 style season for Alonso because Kubica wouldn’t bow down, he’d give him a good run for his money!

    1. Ferrari won’t take him after two years out of the sport.

      1. Diasgree.

        If he were to return and he proved himself quick in a Ferrari then I think they would rather sign him up than lose him on a long term deal to another team.

      2. Ferrari has resource and cars(and the track?) to test him even without regular FIA test. Proving Kubica is no matter to Ferrari.

      3. I don’t see why they wouldn’t. They could easily sign him on a contract with a security clause, so they could run him in an old car as their driver, then make an assessment. If they were going to run him in a test, they would be silly not to have some kind of contract with him, to prevent him then going elsewhere.

        If he didn’t perform as well as expected, they could release him. It could work for both parties. If Ferrari decide not to renew Massa’s contract for 2013, assessing Kubica is no riskier than any of the other available drivers on the market. The only other real option they have is Mark Webber, who they would likely overlook given his age, as they like to lock their drivers down for a number of years.

        1. We all saw what Kubica did a year ago.

          Do you really think Alonso would want him?

      4. Scuderia OFFERS 1 500 000 Euro for Kubica to not sign Lotus for 2012-2013 :)

  7. I am dissapointed, but it was a wise decision – he need to be at 110% fitness for F1.
    As of his replacement for start of the season, I think Renault (Lotus?) should stick to Senna. Give the boy a chance, cause he will never fully develop his skills if teams will do such a jugglery with him. Ideal situation for this team would be Grosjean – Senna, but Im sure money will keep Petrov in the car :/

  8. He can move his hand and elbow.
    I’m sorry to dissapoint you guys, but he will never return to f1. For F1 you need lightning reflexes, and he can’t even use his arm properly. With the doctors having to reconstruct his arm, it’s a miracle he is alive and he will probably get full (or almost) use of it in time. Robert should be grateful for the second chance at life he was given, because most people don’t get one.
    It would be great if he’d return, but if we would believe that, we would simply lie to ourselves. It is just impossible with today’s medicine.

    1. That’s true; it’s great he has back mobility, given the extent and amount of damage, but it might be a long way until he can be fully recovered.

    2. Unfortunately, I have a feeling you might be right. Get well son Robert.

    3. Robert is set to drive a FR3.5, which drivers have said has heavier steering than an F1… I reckon he’ll be back.

      I don’t question his decision to return, if indeed he does. An accident of that magnitude might put us general public off, but he’s a racing driver.

      Also, if you compare his rally accident with say, Canada 07… you’d say he would rather have an accident inside the relative known quantity of an F1 circuit + car… unlike a rally stage where unknowns are rife.

  9. “Szybkiego powrotu do zdrowia” means “Get well soon”

  10. If he really did step up and say “Guy’s I’m not gonna delay the inevitable anymore, I’m not gonna be ready for the start of 2012” (opposed to that being PR spin for “we dragged him away kicking & screaming) then more respect for him. Not many drivers in todays Motorsports world would do that, most would try to drag out the decision as long as possible.

  11. Bring Rubens in until Robert feels better!

  12. A mature approach from both the team and Kubica. Looking forward to seeing him in FP1 very soon!

  13. We need to keep telling ourselves in situations like this that we should just be glad the guy has an arm which he can use.

    I’m holding my breath – but if this guy never returns to F1 it surely must be, in my eyes, the biggest waste of a driver’s potential in modern day F1. I was thinking he’d be WDC in 2013, not simply getting back to grips with driving :(

    1. We all thought Alonso GP next year and champion 2013. Summed it up perfectly @electrolite

    2. @electrolite A very wise comment :-) . I think he was in 2010 and would have been in 2011 the best chance of a refreshing underdog victory !

      We are a few here I think to miss him being on the grid, as his driving style an attitude toward the sport is unique.

      Did everyone else noticed how seldom he is or was being criticised (for any reason) by the F1 followers and his peers?

      I think F1 does sometimes need someone, to prove again that “nice guys do not always finish second” ;-)

  14. so Grojean would be favour…or Kimi? also which team Kubica would choose? Renault? Ferrari?

    1. @Eggry Really can’t see Raikkonen in the frame. LRGP already annoyed him last season when they were throwing his name about for a bit of publicity.

  15. Hope he really bounces back from all of this. Just found a not popular onboard video on YT showing Kubicas marvellous qualifying at Suzuka last season were he really pushes that car and takes on 130R with one hand:) What a splended driver he is.
    Once again speedy recovery Robert
    Link to video:

    1. So good!!

  16. It would be nice to see Rubens in the Renault. The way i see it there is only a place here and at HRT ( Unless they reveal that Liuzzi has a contract).

  17. He can now walk freely, and move his hand and elbow -, but he feels that he needs more time to return to full fitness.

    I can do the same – and it would take me months to become as fit as an F1 driver. Considering Robert risked his life, it’s obvious he has to wait.

  18. I never thought he would’ve come back in 2012, but the confirm makes me sad.

  19. It’s a massive shame that he’s not coming back as soon as the newspapers/magazines had been hinting, but I don’t think anyone realistically believed them anyway.

    It would be heartbreaking if he came back and wasn’t at his best, so I’m not surprised they’ve taken this decision. It’s the most sensible option and it will benefit everyone more, ultimately.

    The only thing I can hope for is that Robert can fully recover and return one day. This isn’t something to be rushed and I don’t care how long it takes, we just need him to get better.

  20. Now that the kubica picture is clear, i have huge feeling that sutil is going to renault, kimi to williams ( as earlier) and rubens to force india!!! After the sahara investment the most experienced F1 driver in the world would be perfect to develop the team along with fresh blood of paul and nico

  21. Just to be precise: he DID NOT say he’s not going back in 2012 at all.

    “I came to the conclusion that I am not yet certain to be ready for the 2012 season.”

    Some people are already ruling out his participation in the whole season, which taking into account Lotus Renault readiness to take him in mid-season, is very much premature and unjustified.

    1. Premature and unjustified – just like his return to the sport during the 2012 season would be.

      Bob is one of my favourite F1 drivers, and I dearly want to see him come back at some point, but I think he should do so after a full winter of testing, to see where he stands. Or sits. With virtually no mid-season testing allowed, if he comes back part-way through 2012, it will be with very little experience post-crash. Sure, he’ll do simulator work and maybe drive some other cars (probably not rally ones), but nothing can substitute for the real thing.

      He shouldn’t come back before he’s fully ready, and sadly, that won’t be in 2012. I hope it is soon afterwards, though.

      1. He can easily test in 2010 spec car from January with no restrictions. It’s the car he’s accustomed to and in which his performance can be reliably evaluated. Absolutely no problem with getting back mid season. It’s just a matter of whether it’s good for his image and market value. If Lotus mid-season is pretty much the same level as current Renault in terms of competitiveness – he might not want to be see anywhere near it.

        1. *seen, edit option please!

        2. It’s the car he’s accustomed to, which will mean it is a good reference point, but it won’t be the car he’s driving on race weekends. I really think the magnitude of his injuries mean he should take his time coming back and get a whole pre-season of testing under his belt. But I’m no medical expert.

          1. What’s the difference between pre-season winter testing in F1 car and private, unlimited testing in F1 car? Besides the former is restricted and the latter is not. I don’t get your point here. He can make thousands of kilometers, putting his body and skills to the test easily comparable with full race weekend.

          2. They could even get 2-3 cars up and running between Fisi, Gene, Robert and do a bit of a small race in fiorano!

            I think its mainly about the contract ending this year and therefore being free to negotiate from januari 1st, but I think that if they take an older car there’s more than one team that would offer a solid testing traject and paycheck package.

  22. sid_prasher (@)
    23rd November 2011, 18:37

    Thats rather unfortunate – I hope he will be back fully fit for 2013.

    This might give some other fringe drivers some hope of landing the seat at Renault.

  23. I’d love to see him back on the grid, he was one of my favorite drivers to watch. That being said I have serious doubts he will actually return to F1. His injuries were significant and I’m unconvinced he can come back from them to perform at his previous level. I can only hope time will prove me wrong. Incidentally, has made any appearances or given any video interviews since the crash?

  24. I think if he can let him take part in the pre season test, then see how things go,then we will have another test before the start of the Spanish GP he may test their & hopefully be able to race from the Spanish GP. Until then Romain & Senna seems to be the prime candidate for the seats in Renault.

    1. “Romain & Senna seems to be the prime candidate”

      I am fan of Renault and this is really going to take Renault down next season :/Do not remember so bad drivers line up like 2011-2012!

  25. and by the way:

    Morelli is trying to say same thing as I tried. Return in 2012, even from the beginning, was not ruled out. The yesterday statement was made purely for Renault/Lotus.

  26. His manager saying something different.

  27. IMO the yesterday’s announcement was just saying goodbye to Renault/Lotus.

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