Kubica did “a grand prix weekend in a day” in Renault test

2017 F1 season

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Robert Kubica admitted his return to an F1 cockpit for the first time in six years left him with “mixed feelings” after conducting a race weekend simulation with Renault.

The 32-year-old has not raced in single-seaters since he was seriously injured in a rally crash in February 2011. He drove 115 laps in Renault’s E20 at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia yesterday.

“I would like to thank everybody for making this possible,” said Kubica. “I hope it was a good day for everyone and maybe they saw something of my old, 2010 self.”

“For me, it has been an important day from an emotional point of view. It has been a long time away from the paddock and I have been through difficult periods, I kept working hard and a few years ago I felt it was impossible.”

Kubica logged 115 laps
Kubica’s comments after driving the car gave no indication whether a full-time return to Formula One might be possible in the future.

“I have mixed feelings,” he said. “I am proud with what I achieved today, but also it shows what I have lost.”

“I don’t know what the future will bring, but I know one thing, after working for more than one year to prepare for this, I ran with good pace and consistent in difficult conditions. It is not easy after six years, but I knew I could do the job and I can be satisfied.”

“I appreciate the opportunity,” he added. “Renault gave me my first F1 test in 2005, so I appreciate another test this time around.”

Renault’s sporting director Alan Permane said Kubica had “a smooth day” in the car. “We tried to condense a Grand Prix weekend into one day, which was interesting for him.”

“Robert has changed a little, he is more mellow and he wasn’t as pushy when asking for every detail about the set-up of the car. His comments and feedback, however, were like turning the clock back for all of us. It is a tricky thing to jump into an F1 car after six years and it was a great performance from him.”

Permane described Kubica’s test as a “one-off”.

“His time with Renault was cut short so abruptly and we perceived such a nice future with him. The team was in Valencia testing with Sergey Sirotkin, so it was the perfect opportunity to offer Robert a day in the car and contribute in our way to his recovery.”

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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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55 comments on “Kubica did “a grand prix weekend in a day” in Renault test”

  1. “I have mixed feelings,” he said. “I am proud with what I achieved today, but also it shows what I have lost.”

    I’ve read this a few times already. When he says what he lost, is he referring to his capabilities or his career? A native please

    1. @johnmilk I assumed he meant capabilities.

      1. @keithcollantine yup, that is what I thought when I first read it, but then gave me a different impression.


        1. Very low chance of him returning then, if he meant his capabilities by it. That’s a shame. It would have made a perfect story.

      2. I hope it’s about his lost career, what might have been from 2011. He did 115 laps, was faster than Sirotkin, that doesn’t really reflect his “lost capabilities”.

        1. True
          That was about his time in paddock
          His capabilities are fine
          Or more than fine I think

          And I am native

          1. It was about all the years away from F1. He was 100% happy about his performance. Have you ever seen him so happy:

        2. @michal2009b Do we know he was faster than Sirotkin? I don’t think anyone has released any laptimes or it has been stated by Renault.

          1. He was 0,4 sec per lap better

          2. I was trying to figure that out, someone wrote on here ‘rumoured’ though i havent seen anything official?

          3. @asanator
            I think it’s that kind of rumour that has developped a life of its own because it fits perfectly with what most people were expecting or wanted to hear.
            I don’t think we have any more info about that than Permane’s remark that Kubica was ‘competitive’, or something along those lines, which is rather difficult to judge given the circumstances of the test, so that seems to hint at Kubica’s performance comparing favourably with Sirotkin’s. But I think there are quite a few other interpretations that would make sense.

          4. @nase True. 0.4s advantage is just a rumour made up by some journalist. No media were allowed to witness the test. Only confirmed information is that he did 115 laps including qualifying simulation. Everything else is speculation.

      3. Hmmm i assumed he meant he’s referring to the years he’s lost out of the sport not being able to prove himself.

      4. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        7th June 2017, 18:31

        Hmm I interpreted his comment as lost or missed opportunities. Mark Hughes the respected journalist had said Kubica was “very fast” and other reports suggest faster than Sirotkin. Personally I think this is the first step to a return within two years.

        1. That’s the way I interpret it as well. And if we actually go back in history and look it is very likely kubica would have been driving for ferrari. But instead it was kimi who came in to the renault/lotus and then went to ferrari. Had kubica not been hurt kimi’s only chance for comeback would have been with williams and their car was hopelessly awful at that time. Which probably would have meant ferrari would not get kimi because the williams was soo poor and in would have reflected poorly on kimi as well. Just like the fast lotus reflected well on kimi.

    2. I read it the other way, I thought he was referring to his career. It is a pretty ambiguous statement!

    3. I actually read it as a statement of regret that he had lost 6 years being out of a Formula One cockpit… but could be wrong…

    4. @Joao Polish native here. He meant what he few years of F1 career that he lost as a result of the crash.

      1. Thanks Bart. I guess he went for a literal translation from Polish and ended up sounding ambiguous.

        That at least sounds more encouraging for his future prospects.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          7th June 2017, 16:25

          @johnmilk I assumed he meant his capabilities until I read your comment and now I’m not sure. He could have easily meant either and the sentence would be correct.

          The more I think about it, the more I think he means he’s sad at losing out on most of his F1 career.

          1. He meant to sound very nostalgic. He was quite fast that day – there were reports from an early stint that he was 0.4 sec faster than Sirotkin

          2. The fact that he was faster than Sirotkin was reportedly said by Frédéric Ferret of l’équipe and one of the journalists close to Kubica. This was the info circulating around.

          3. @petebaldwin that was my first interpretation as well. Then I read it again.

            It seems that I created quite the mess with my question

    5. Jarek, polish man
      8th June 2017, 10:08

      Career ! starts in F1 that is what he has lost.

      1. @johnmilk, it was a great question! I can’t tell either way. Kubica is well known for his honesty. But it’s true: he was smiling a hell of a lot!

    6. Jaki. Im pretty sure he means where his body and capabilities are now. He was always into rally and that was half of his life when another half was F1. So he means both capabilities and career.
      In my opinion this is one of the best and honest words to be quoted I’ve ever read.

      F1 wheel is now like 3 Xbox controllers joint together….on steroids. You can’t do the job with one hand unless you run some crazy one hand controller with flappy paddles and steering left for poor hand. You can say no one can do it but he may day that no one tried so you never know.

  2. Well, 115 laps is a lot, lot more than a simple camera apperance.

    Much impressive. I bet they will analyze data carefully and compare him to Sirotkin.

    1. Why not with Palmer?

      1. There’s very little they could compare with Palmer as he wasn’t also driving in the test. Sirotkin was, so it makes for a logical comparison.

      2. He’s better than Joylon “Excuse Machine” Palmer. No need to compare.

  3. It may be wishful thinking but for me this is all pointing towards an attempted comeback. What other reason could there be for running a full weekend simulation?

    If his times were comparable/better with Sirotkin’s then I’d say get him in to replace Palmer as soon as possible. Palmer clearly isn’t cutting it, mid-way into his second season and shows no signs of improving, so why not take the risk? Worst case, he doesn’t score any points, which is still no worse than Palmer and they can sub him back out for somebody else.

    I’d love to see him back. Even a 90% 2010-spec Robert Kubica would deserve a place on the grid.

    1. Replacing Palmer with Kubica would be the best F1 story in years. Even an 80% Kubica would be worth his weight in PR gold. He is such a great sportsman, and I am sure that he would rise to the challenge.

    2. Does palmer bring in money? Maybe this was a kind offer from renault to kubica to see whether kubica can still do it. And if kubica can then kubica can use this as proof that his comeback can and will work. He can show the lap times to some sponsors and try to raise some money for a 2018 seat at renault?

  4. @keithcollantine Keith, a question for you.
    What is the Superlicence situation with regards to Kubica?
    i suspect as he has been away from single seat racing for years, that he won’t have the necessary 40 points to get a Superlicemce. If that is the case, then anyone hoping for him to replace Palmer are going to be disappointed. However, as a former F1 driver and a race winner, would that help?

    1. I doubt he has one, but I’m pretty sure the FIA would consider this a “special circumstance” considering his experience.

    2. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      7th June 2017, 16:42

      @repete86 @ijw1 any driver who has at list a GP weekend entry doesn’t need to collect FIA points.

      1. @omarr-pepper It’s if you’ve made five starts in the previous season or 15 in the previous three.

  5. Remember he said he had been preparing for the test whole year
    He spent hours in different simulators and other single seaters
    The test was not to confirm he is capable to drive f1 machinery but he’s ready to get back

  6. I know many are hoping this leads to a comeback, Maybe replacing Palmer as early as this year, But I’m not sure I can see that happening. Reason been that 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.

    Driving a 6 year old car on the pre-2016 speccification Pirelli exhibition tyres (That are super hard) isn’t anywhere near been representative of current cars. If he’s going to even think about trying an F1 comeback he needs more track time in current equipment (Some FP1 runs through this season perhaps) & a full pre-season build-up/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 at all.

    Those wanting Kubica in the car ASAP just because they see Jolyon Palmer as ‘useless’ or whatever isn’t the right approach. You should want Robert in the car because he’s ready for it & able to be competitive, Not just because you dislike one of the existing drivers & want him replaced.

    1. I don’t dislike Jolyon, I think most folk on here would just love to see Kubica back and competitive. Some FP1 sessions in Palmer’s car perhaps?

  7. The point is that RK is ready
    He has proven that during last few months
    The last test is just final confirmation

  8. Could he handle the more physical 2017 cars?

    1. The 2012 car is not too far off from the current 2017 cars. Obviously the ’17 is little more violent but not much. The 2012 pole time in spain is only about 2 seconds faster than in 2017.

  9. I think this year is a major stretch, but 115 laps and ‘working for more than one year to prepare for this’ doesn’t sound like a one-off nostalgia trip. Doesn’t mean he’s able to do it or that he’d still be quick, but this certainly feel like a concerted plan to try and make it back to the grid. Gotta give them kudos up to the guy.

  10. Everyone is using wishful thinking. It’s pretty clear from the tone of everyone’s comments, especially Permane’s who said this was strictly a one off event in appreciation of his struggles and their history together. Not a single comment from anyone indicated anything about a come back. Kubica is/was my favorite driver, but I’ve finally come to accept he’ll never race in F1 again.

    1. Don’t underestimate the power of wishful thinking by talented people! Stranger things have happened.

  11. Estaban de los Casas
    7th June 2017, 18:55

    Deep sorrow reading this as he was one we watched with interest. He had potential. His future was ripe with promise but it all changed in a single moment. Someone, l believe, who has now cemented his place into F1 History. Thank you for racing for me.

  12. He’s always been capable if driving an F1 car, on certain tracks. The issue was that he lacked the range of arm movement necessary to race at circuits like Monaco, which call for rapid transitions from full left to full right. I don’t believe this test demonstrates that he has gained the necessary range of movement to return to F1.

    In February, he said he felt he could drive at “80% of the F1 tracks – but not all of them”.


    1. see what Mark Hughes wrote:
      “It follows on from his first single-seater tests earlier in the year – in a GP3 car at Franciacorta in Italy and a Formula E at Donington. What was significant about these earlier tests was they allowed him to assess whether the limited articulation of his injured right arm still prevented him from being able to steer within the confines of a single-seater’s cockpit. The Franciacorta circuit was chosen for the fact that it features two tight hairpins that require a lot of steering lock. Kubica was reportedly delighted to find that the arm no longer presented a problem, that it was now possible for it to function without being held out at an angle that had previously prevented it from fitting into such an enclosed space. So if it is now possible for him to properly drive a single-seater, does that beg the tantalising question of an F1 comeback? A test with a current F1 team hardly pours cold water on such an idea.”

      there is no more the issue

  13. Hi all,
    Robert did say if he wanted to drive an F1 car for fun he would of used the 2008 BMW Sauber he’s been given. Why would he suddenly resign from WEC? And why bother all those tests in Formula E and GP3 car? Just to do 1 day in 5 year old car? Not sure about that, if so then why don’t we see the lap times etc. ( very private test).
    He’s been preparing whole year for this?
    Another thing is what is going to be the outcome of it, Robert did everything he could to.say: Look, I can drive F1 car and I’m OK. It’s a signal to F1 teams and I’m sure there are some people, decision making people who are scratching their heads right now thinking about it and.maybe even looking at the data from Valencia.
    And another question is if Robert was quick enough, I.can’t say.
    If it’s about 2017 cars being more physically demanding, we have to remember that Robert wasn’t seating on the sofa for the past few years, possibly with does injuries most of us wouldn’t achieve this what he did since 2011.
    For me it’s clear that he wants to.come back and now it’s up to.the teams.

    1. You are right Marecki
      the test was not to check capabilities, but to show his readiness

      he always stressed to make an F1 test only if he was sure he was ready to compete there

  14. I would like to see Kimi or Nando win another WDC. And Dan or Carlos or Felipe or even Valteri win their first. And I’m pretty sure Max will get his also, although I’m not particularly looking forward to that.

    But the thing I absolutely would like to see in F1, more than anything else, is a WDC for Robert. Or a few.

  15. SevenFiftySeven
    8th June 2017, 9:36

    Would be great if Kubica did return. We never got to see how further in the grid he could go before that crash. If it can’t happen, FIA and the new commercial wing could run a short Master’s Series (in place of the touted non-points-scoring extra F1 race). Let’s say 3 races per year in between the F1 season schedule.

    We could have Robert Kubica, Alain Prost, Alan Jones, Nigel Mansel, Damon Hill, Gerhard Berger, Jean Alesi, Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Juan Pablo Montoyo, Ralf Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Martin Brundle (he’ll do commentary fromt he cockpit lol), Heinz Harald Frentzen, Jos Verstappen, etc. The list is random; no merit or driver grading implied.

    They could race in a lower spec single seater.

  16. Fukobayashi (@)
    8th June 2017, 9:38

    Some careful management of expectations from Renault and the man himself it seems. Fingers crossed.

  17. The photo of kubica smiling at the test was all that matters. No one knows what kubica will chose, they havent since the crash. Many never believed he would even sit in an f1 car again. My prediction is a few more open wheeler tests in 2nd half of year before he finally accepts toto wolffs offer of trying a mercedes f1 car, and thats as far as i will predict. After that kubica will be left to decidecif he is 100% commited to try to get back into f1. For this test, it was just a commitment to the test. Kubica is 32 and has enough respect from f1 team owners to still get a seat in f1 if he feels he is in good enough shape to do it… and more than enough fans.

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