Kubica has first F1 test for six years

2017 F1 season

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Robert Kubica has tested a Formula One car for the first time since the rally crash which maimed him in 2011.

The 32-year-old drove a 2012-specification Lotus E20, now run by Renault, at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia. The team confirmed he did 115 laps in the car.

Kubica’s last F1 test was at the same Spanish circuit on February 2rd, 2011, when he headed the times in the team’s 2011 car. Four days later he suffered serious injuries when he crashed his Skoda Fabia S2000 while competing in the Ronde di Andora Rally.

Pictures: Robert Kubica tests Renault F1 car

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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108 comments on “Kubica has first F1 test for six years”

  1. French journalists say he did over a hundred laps including a race distance and was faster than Sirotkin yesterday.
    This wasn’t a test to see if his arm still worked. This was a test to see if he can return, soon.

    1. Already done a GP3 test at a circuit with very tight hairpins and a Formula E test at Donington for all the new mechanical features. I am dead serious when I say I expect him in that car (Palmer’s) before the season is out.

    2. I read only sirotkin drove yesterday while kubica had seat fitting. hence why only officual renault tweets today

      1. Has anyone noticed his helmet design is more like in the BMW days instead of the black and yellow one he used in 2010?

        1. the design he used is his “traditional” one. you can check his “before F1” pictures

    3. I really hope it happens, he was always an inspiring, battling driver to watch. We’re not short of talent in the field but I’d like to see his flower some more and see how far he can take it.

      1. His last Singapore GP was fantastic, like he had an extra gear

        1. That was one awesome drive, the only pity is that all of the overtakes are in the area where there’s no grandstands or spectator viewing areas.

    4. This is both my suspicion and hope. I’d love to see him make the return we never thought would happen and replace Palmer.

      1. Brilliant news!! Seriously hope a return happens. Here’s hoping Palmer is ditched in favour of some raw talent and perseverance

    5. I really hope that he was in fact faster than Sirotkin. I would mean that shock news of an modern F1 era are coming. Right about time! #notsospeedyrecovery

    6. I really hope that he was in fact faster than Sirotkin. It would mean that the shock news of an modern F1 era are coming. Right about time! #notsospeedyrecovery #kubicaisback

      1. Dont know which I would be more happy about. Kubica in or the god awful Palmer out.

    7. I’d love to see him replace palmer, and for an extra bonus, I hope the f1 media ignores palmer after he gets cut, he’s had enough of the spotlight to bitch and moan, he doesn’t need anymore!

      Exciting news!

      1. When Palmer does go, he’ll parachute into a job as a Sky F1 pundit.

        1. I really hope not unless he replaces Di Resta.

        2. For sure, he’ll get a job at Sky. It’s the league for failed British F1 drivers. Indeed, like Di Resta.

  2. Whatever comes of this, well done. Perseverance, passion and bravery pays off.

    Here’s to hoping that Renault takes a punt at him – after all, the worst that can happen is that he scores 0 points, i.e. as much as Palmer has to date.

    1. Exactly my thoughts.

    2. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      6th June 2017, 19:02


    3. Great point! @victor!

      And I think it would make F1 and Renault popular with a bang in Poland over night!

      1. Fukobayashi (@)
        7th June 2017, 9:29

        Not just in Poland. I don’t think there is any true F1 fan and indeed most drivers who would not get a few goosebumps to see Kubica back in F1!

  3. Kubica is the man. This is very encouraging – and good to see him in a yellow car again :O

    1. It’s a shame they painted it though. Looked so much better in black gold and red.

      1. Agreed kind of sacrilege to get rid of the beautiful Lotus livery, but boy I was so psyched for the 2011 season, this made me giddy again seeing yellow!

  4. Wow, cars were really that ugly back then?

    Now, I feel more and more that this year’s cars look normal (instead of gorgeous), and older cars look ugly (instead of normal)

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      6th June 2017, 17:50

      That’s how I feel too. If I stick on a game of F1 2016 I spend the first 5 minutes scowling at the tall skinny cars which don’t look like F1 machinery at all. The same repulsion I felt when I first saw the shape on the cover of Autosport back in 2008

      1. Fukobayashi (@)
        7th June 2017, 9:39

        +1 its amazing how we got used to them. Have a look at the absolute monstrosities from 2014 and ask yourself again why F1 failed to attract the right sponsors and manufacturers! Horrible awkward looking machines.

  5. I would lie to you if I said I wasn’t waiting for this day for a very painful six years. Renault said he was complaining about eeerhm basically about everything. This means a really good mood for Robert. If he’s happy, I’m happy. Life will tell the rest of the story.

    1. “It’s true. It really is Robert Kubica. Back in one of our cars after six years. So why did we keep it quiet? It was a private test, for Robert. But we can tell you this… Robert complained about grip, understeer, downforce and had the biggest smile on after his 115 laps!”


      1. @losd Awesome. What a story if he could come back.

    2. Indeed @cyclops_pl, if he was complaining that means this is serious and he is really there to go fast (and push them to give him a fast car), that would be great news if he can make a comeback.

      I think it’s a sign of how serious they, and Robert, were with it that they did not announce it up front to just make headlines @losd. Now we can get our hopes up!

  6. Last time he spoke of a return to F1, he said he wouldn’t be able to drive on some circuits due to his injuries. Has this changed?

    1. Couldnt be worse than Palmer even on a track he finds the hardest. I think Kubica could beat Palmer using 1 hand.

    2. Looks like it. He always said he would only drive an F1 car again when he felt his body was ready. I guess that GP3 and FE test gave him the finale confidence that he could do it. Given he did 115 laps today in various programs I genuinly hope something special might be happening here.

    3. Yes, it has changed. Mark Hughe wrote about his GP3 test earlier this year : ” …Kubica was reportedly delighted to find that the arm no longer presented a problem…”

    4. Yes it has – he declared that his arm recovered and is no longer a problem. Yet he didn’t wanted to do any F1 tests just for testing, so that puts today’s drive in some perspective…

    5. That will be interesting. I do remember reading what Kubica himself was saying about his injuries. If memory serves me well, it was all about the fingers and how well he is able to use them. Back then I think he found that he regained most of the movement but that small amount of movement he was missing meant he would not be able drive F1 car at the highest level. So I am quite surprised to see him doing such a serious test. Perhaps he found that the injury is not such a big problem or, over the years, it got better one or another way.

      1. Fukobayashi (@)
        7th June 2017, 9:41

        There are advances in nerve damage surgery all the time. Here’s hoping he has made a full recovery!

  7. If nothing comes of this then it’ll still be a fantastic day for motorsports fans; Kubica was the real deal, a hero of a driver with no egotistical baggage, who never left anything on the table, a champion in waiting.

    If he’s driving at high level in the upper levels of the sport again, that’ll be amazing, even if f1 is beyond him.

    If we’re getting confirmation of the old comment “he could beat that guy with one arm tied behind his back…” then … Interesting times ahead for the likes of Palmer, Stroll and other guys who have “struggled” with f1.

    But I think it’s reasonable to assume that the 2017 cars are a different beast, a competitive weekend at the sharp end is a different kettle of fish to a private test, and Robert will probably not be back in f1 full time again given the horror accident he was in.

    But I’m sure I’m not alone in being something in my eye seeing this.

    1. *having

    2. Remember that we’re talking about a guy who was winning stages and leading a WRC Monte Carlo rally on his debut, in a private machine. He knows how to adapt.

  8. Hulk and Kubica? Now that’s a driver pairing.

    1. Fukobayashi (@)
      7th June 2017, 9:41


  9. I’d be chuffed if he does come back to F1. I’ve always thought he was second only to Alonso, hardly making any mistakes, ever, while always performing on a very high level. He could’ve been a world champion in a slightly more competitive car. The sooner he replaces Palmer, the better.

  10. He did 115 laps. I think it’s more than just a test. I hope so.
    Bye Palmer, please!!

  11. 115 laps! That was definitely testing to see if his fitness can handle a complete race. This is sounding more and more like a full-time F1 return.

  12. It took him a while but he finally delivered what he promised. Said he will test an F1 car only if he feels ready… and look what he just did! A private test in Roberts case means that something big might just happen! C’mon Kubica :D

  13. I don’t get emotional about sports very much anymore, but if he comes back, a) my mind will be blown and b) I do believe I may cry just a little.

  14. so much hate for poor palmer isnt it?

    1. Robert McKay
      6th June 2017, 19:50

      You’d think the guy was Riccardo Rosset or something

    2. Hes anything but poor.

    3. Fukobayashi (@)
      7th June 2017, 9:42

      Hate is a strong word. But a complete lack of faith in his ability to compete, yes.

  15. Recently met him at the Dubai 24hrs. Such a nice guy. What a driver and how dearly he is missed in F1. I hope he makes it

  16. racerdude7730
    6th June 2017, 19:29

    I almost forgot how a F1 car is supposed to sound. I know i miss it….. Im really happy he was able to run as many laps as he did. I really wonder if they are really doing this to try and put him in the car. You would think there would be so many other really good drivers out there to take that up right away and prob do it for free. Im sure this was just something they wanted to do for press or maybe he even paid for the test either way its good to see him in a car (an ugly car at that. I forgot how must better the new cars are to these older monsters)

  17. I sooo hope that if this doesn’t work, Fernando (who Robert has been buddies with) would convince him to try out IndyCar. Their steering wheels and cockpits might just be a better fit for a compromised Kubica.

    1. The problem with Indycar is there is no power steering so it would prob be more easy to do F1 for him then IndyCar. Unless his issue is the fine motor skills that you need in F1 to change all your settings on the fly. In IndyCar you have to do that also but not as much or as fast as F1.

    2. With his bad luck, he’ll end up dead in the catch fence if he races in Indycar. Let’s keep him in the relative safety of F1.

  18. I almost forgot how a F1 car is supposed to sound. I know i miss it….. Im really happy he was able to run as many laps as he did. I really wonder if they are really doing this to try and put him in the car. You would think there would be so many other really good drivers out there to take that up right away and prob do it for free. Im sure this was just something they wanted to do for press or maybe he even paid for the test either way its good to see him in a car (an ugly car at that. I forgot how must better the new cars are to these older monsters)

    1. @racerdude7730

      I almost forgot how a F1 car is supposed to sound.

      I always thought the V8’s sounded awful, Definately NOT what I think an F1 car should sound like!

      A lot of rose tinted glasses among fans now because interestingly back when those V8’s were introduced/been used most fans constantly complained about how bad they sounded. Loud yes but the sound was dull, flat, boring, uninspiring & they all sounded the same.

      I’d much rather the marvels we have now than those awful sounding, under powered, torque-less V8’s.

      1. The V8’s sound fantastic to me, far better than the waste disposal units we have now.

        1. @paulguitar, each to their own then because, like PeterRogers, I have to agree that I found the V8’s to be extremely unpleasant to listen to.

      2. Racerdude7730
        6th June 2017, 23:23

        The v8’s arnt the best but so much better then what we have. A unrestricted v10 can’t be touched

        1. Yes they can, the Ferrari V12 was glorious and the Matra V12 required a change of underwear

          1. I see your Matra V-12 and raise you one BRM H-16… Oh, this isn’t Piston Poker? Sorry!

  19. I have waited for this news since the unfortunate accident he sustained. If these stories are true, I can’t wait to see him back in a single seater turning a wheel in anger….

  20. congrats Robson :)

  21. Robert McKay
    6th June 2017, 19:57

    Even if he doesn’t come back as a race driver, think we might see him in at least a Friday practice session this year?

  22. This is great news. That being said, a 2012 car with test tires isn’t quite same as a 2017 car in terms of physical stress. If he’s seriously looking at a return, I imagine it wouldn’t be until after more training and a test / practice outing in a 2017 car.

    1. @grippgoat I dont think anyone expects him to jump straight into an full GP weekend from having a private test in an 2012 car.

      I do however think that a test like that is more than sufficient for him to see if he will be able to drive F1 cars competitively again.

  23. A lot of unfair anti Palmer comments on here, give the guy a break. Yes he’s made mistakes and usually at the worst possible time but his car has let him down just as much at those moments he needed it most. Some drivers are plain unlucky, some get all there bad luck out of the way early in their careers, l for one hope he falls into the latter category. There are an awful lot of drivers we wouldn’t be celebrating now if they hadn’t been given a chance to mature.

    1. To be honest I don’t remember any specific mistake apart from him being in F1. Very much like Chilton before he is just one of those arrogant rich kids which don’t have any talent to be part of the grid, but a father paying for it.

      1. @unitedkingdomracing Palmer won the GP2 championship so I don’t think suggesting he doesn’t have any talent & is only in F1 because of money is really fair.

        1. It took him 4 tries though.

          I do agree with Fran though, he seems pretty nice. But right now he’s simply not doing a good job at all. He has the biggest performance delta to his teammate in qualifying (1.451% slower than Hülkenberg, while Stroll is 1% slower than Massa and Vandoorne is 0.672% slower than Alonso) and unlike the two rookies he does have 1 year of experience with F1 and the team, which despite the rule change should be worth something. If we consider Massa to be as fast as Hülkenberg, Stroll would have outqualified Palmer by an average of 4 tenths. That should tell you how bad a job he’s doing this year.

          Yes, he’s had some bad luck, but his outright pace doesn’t seem to be there.

      2. Arrogant? He doesn’t come across like that to me.

      3. Jolyon is a very humble and down to earth guy. Absolutely no arrogance whatsoever. One can’t choose their parents nor their social background. Demonising someone because of their family’s wealth and assuming someone is arrogant because they are wealthy is just showing their own prejudice and envy/frustration. Get a proper job !!

    2. Really don’t think people are being unfair. The guy is rubbish in every way. He’s the slowest driver on the grid and the most error prone (after Stroll maybe). He’s the only driver who’s gotten worse as time has gone on.

      I think it’s well justified bashing.

    3. Fukobayashi (@)
      7th June 2017, 9:50

      Is your full name Fran Palmer perchance?

      The qualifying deficit to the Hulk, a much taller, heavier driver is frankly embarrassing and the reason F1 fans get riled up is not because he’s a pay driver but rather that F1 is supposed to feature the 22 odd best drivers in the world. Palmer would probably not even make the top 100.

  24. This is from another website: “Kubica was set to contest the World Endurance Championship with the ByKolles LMP1 team in 2017, but he withdrew from his planned programme on the eve of the season.” – ladies & gentleman something is HAPPENING!! (I hope).

    1. @markomannia I think him moving away from the planned ByKolles program was probably more to do with the fact the ByKolles team are a bit of a joke. Slow, Uncompetitive & often unreliable.
      Just before he quit the program Kubica was scheduled for a test at Monza, However the wing broke on the car & the team hadn’t bothered to take any spares at all to what was supposed to be a multi-day test.

      The ByKolles team also recently announced that they would not be taking any further part in the WEC season after Le mans & one of there other drivers James Rossiter recently announced he would be skipping le mans to go testing in a Super GT car instead.

      That team is a disaster & has been for a while.

      1. I believe Rossiter was contractually obliged to go testing in Super GT, but my opinion of Kolles hasn’t really changed since the shambles of …well…every example of him being active in F1

  25. Seeing a lot of people ‘hoping’ that Kubica’s test is an indication that he’s set to replace Palmer at Renault but I’m not sure I can see that happening because regardless of how good Robert was/is. Jumping into an F1 car mid-season after 6 years away, Especially with them been more physical & demanding this year, Potentially struggling to re-acclimatize himself to F1, Maybe struggling with fitness & any lingering issues he has with his injuries isn’t going to be beneficial to him or the team.

    If he’s going to make an F1 comeback he needs more track time (Maybe some FP1 running) & would benefit from a full pre-season test program & even then I can’t see him been at the level he was at in 2010 straight away. It’s going to take time to build back to where he was, If he’s even going to be able to get back there.

  26. Great news, make it so, Robert’s a major winner already, this would be the icing on the cake.

  27. Absolutely fantastic to see him in an F1 car again after everything he’s been through and would love to see him back on the F1 grid where he belongs.

    Anyone know if he qualify’s for an F1 super licence?

    1. He did qualify yesterday lapping 115 times…

      1. I’m not sure that is enough.

  28. This is easily the best news I’ve read all year.

    Having impressed with his raw speed in WRC (certainly more so compared to Kimi), and continuing through several high-speed accidents, there is no doubting his commitment and bravery to do what he loves. And it seems that he’s in love with F1 again now.

    I think he’ll spend the winter getting some more mileage in 2017 machinery and more fitness training – and then he’ll be a good as ever. 32 years old is nothing for him.

  29. C’mon guys. I’d love to see Kubica back. But there’s no reason to be such jerks about Palmer. He did great in the junior categories, and is a great driver. He just hasn’t been able to make it work in F1 so far. Give it a rest.

    1. Many athletes hit their top form in the junior category of their sport. And can’t make a go of it in the big leagues. We’ve seen this time and time again in many sports. Not different in motorsport. I would replace Palmer with Kubica in a heartbeat.

    2. Fukobayashi (@)
      7th June 2017, 9:56

      Do you see anyone wishing ill on him? No, simply opinions that he doesn’t deserve the seat, which he doesn’t, fact. 4 seasons to win a GP2 championship is not really doing great, it is distinctly average.

  30. What about his superlicence? Anyone know? @keithcollantine?

  31. I think its about time that Kubica came back with a bang. Looking forward to seeing how this pans out.

  32. This is great news. Would love to see Kubica replace Palmer right now if he feels ready. Don’t care if there are contractual obligations…Renault have money and Kubica has talent….and if he is fit and ready, that’s all that is required. With Hulk’s speed and Kubica’s experience that would be a strong combination.
    I understand that this was a private test. But, did he use 2017 tyres? What lap times did he do?

  33. I just have to add to the plethora of positive comments here!

    Kubica (“Kubitza”) is one of my favourite drivers of all time. Haris_ said it best earlier in the comments trail: “Kubica was the real deal, a hero of a driver with no egotistical baggage, who never left anything on the table, a champion in waiting.”

    I would be so so happy for the guy and myself if he could race again in F1. It really would be a dream come true.

  34. A nice little bit of continuity there – Kubica would have been car #9 in the 2011 season

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