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’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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