Robert Kubica, Renault, Valencia, 2017

‘I have never been fitter’, insists Kubica

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Robert Kubica has insisted he is fitter than he ever was during his years racing in Formula One.

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Should Renault seriously consider Robert Kubica as a potential replacement for Jolyon Palmer? @thegianthogweed offers an alternative.

Many will disagree here, but I think they should get Maldonado back. Especially if he will be able to fund the team too. He wasn’t a bad driver at all in 2015. He is certainly a fair bit better than Palmer and his experience with F1 should help. I think Renault would be better off with having Maldonado than risking bringing in a new driver. While it was worth seeing if Palmer could impress in 2016 and give him the chance this year to improve, I now think Renault would have got more points if they kept Maldonado instead over both the last couple of seasons so far.

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  • 86 comments on “‘I have never been fitter’, insists Kubica”

    1. Neil (@neilosjames)
      18th June 2017, 0:27

      Re CoTD… I do think Maldonado had the potential to be a more-than-adequate driver. He had enough talent, and he could be consistent and quick when he wanted to be, but he never seemed to learn from his mistakes.

      Take Grosjean. Got a poor reputation, accepted he’d done wrong, saw what it was, learnt from it, improved his overall driving and ended up as a pretty secure fixture on the grid.

      Maldonado got a poor reputation too. But he never accepted he’d done anything wrong, refused to learn and just carried on doing the same thing for years… and ended up as a comedy figure, booted out as soon as his sponsor ran out of cash.

      1. You’ve more or less summed up the impression I had of Maldonado. I thought he easily had the potential to become a paid driver, and it was frustrating to see the same “mistakes” appear race after race. At the time I thought that if his sponsor got tired of F1 then he would end up without a seat simply because of his laissez-faire style of driving, whereas if he had tidied up his act and drove with more discipline then it was more than likely he’d have got a seat somewhere.
        As it is, I don’t see Maldonado coming back unless he happens to find another sponsor.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          18th June 2017, 8:30


          “As it is, I don’t see Maldonado coming back unless he happens to find another sponsor.”

          He could have actually been in F1 this year if he wanted to if I am correct. Sauber actually wanted him I think but he wanted a more competitive team. If he had gone to Sauber, then Wehrlien would no longer be in F1. If Sauber were wanting him without his sponsors, I don’t see why Renault wouldn’t get him back if he was replacing Palmer.

          1. @thegianthogweed Actually, if Pastor got the Sauber seat, Mercedes would have put Wehrlein alongside Stroll in Williams. We’d have Ericsson and Maldonado in Sauber and Wehrlein and Stroll in Williams. Maybe we’d have a fantastic battle between Ocon and Wehrlein. But stupid Pastor doesn’t return and Wehrlein is stuck noodling around fighting for 19th.

            1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
              18th June 2017, 16:11

              This actually isn’t true. Because of William’s sponsors, they must have a driver over 25. One of the reasons why they wanted Massa back.

              I’ll quote the reason below.

              “They needed a driver over 25 years of age to replace Bottas because their title sponsor, the drinks giant Martini, cannot use two drivers under that age for its global promotional campaign.”


              I’m not sure Wehrlien is as good as people say though really. There are now 2 races where he’s finished 30 seconds behind Ericsson and another where he was 40 seconds behind. And Both times he was ahead of Ericsson, it wasn’t by that much.

      2. Maldonothankyou.

      3. I would argue that Maldonado was very, very quick– but horrifically inconsistent. He also seemed to lose focus at the strangest times.

    2. Bring the Crashtor back?..Hahaha

      While I’d agree that he had the talent, and possibly potential to succeed, his application was horrendous. You’d expect a driver to improve with years, but with Pastor, that didn’t seem to apply. Being quick every once in a while doesn’t cut it at this level. You can’t play for premier league team just to score a spectacular goal every now and then only to disappear for the rest of the season.

      Bringing RK back, even for a few races, will be a win win for everyone. It will be a feel good story for f1 in general. They should run him in a few FP sessions and see how he holds up against Hulk. I think we can be relatively confident that he won’t disappoint.

      1. Don’t forget that he accused Williams of intentionally setting his tire pressures incorrectly to sabotage him in his final races wit the team COTA I think.

      2. You can’t play for premier league team just to score a spectacular goal every now and then only to disappear for the rest of the season.

        Seems to work for Jesse Lingard.

        Maldonado only showed speed in a 2012 Williams, a car that should have done better than 8th in the WCC. He was otherwise mostly outperformed by Barrichello, Bottas and Grosjean in his other 4 years, so I agree.

        1. If Hamilton hadnt tangled with Maldonado at Monaco Pastor would outscored Barrichello that season. Obvs a big what if, pretty much sums his career up.

          1. If Maldonado hadn’t deliberately gone for the crash than he could have finished that race. Just like Hamilton didn’t crash into Schumacher when the same overtake was pulled on Hamilton in the same race.

            That’s exactly what is wrong with drivers like Maldonado, Massa and Perez. They’d rather crash than let someone past. Then don’t complain afterwards that you lost points due to crashes.

        2. @david-a Well, that’s why he’s not a certain starter, and more of a utility squad rotation player. However, at least he can be invaluable, unlike Pastor.

    3. Maldonado had huge potential and had he followed Grosjean’s, he’d have been a superb driver. But he didn’t, so there’s that…

      Also I don’t think he’d be able to bring as much money as he used to do. So in that sense, risking having a driver that destroys a front wing every 20 laps (at minimum) and doesn’t bring too much into the team isn’t that clever.

      They better get Sergei in the car before Crashtor.

    4. Now I understand why Hamilton seems to appreciate Bottas.

      1. I think Rosbergs skills were a good fit for the rules 3 years Merc enjoyed dominance. Most importantly he was a great qualifier. He even beat Hamilton to the first pole trophy. With passing so hard he could stay in front.

        His race hard work ethic and race management skills helped too. It might not have looked impressive as Hamilton’s talent for speed, but it was good enough to win him 1 out of 3.

      2. Now I understand why Rosberg said “To hell with this”. That team was always built around keeping Hamilton happy.

        1. Fukobayashi (@)
          19th June 2017, 14:01

          Yes, that’s why Rosberg had the bulletproof car in ’16. To keep Hamilton happy, of course.

      3. Even this. I can’t take anything Toto says seriously these days – rhetoric, hubris, even bile, verging on comedic.
        He seems to have a lot to say about Rosberg lately, even coming back driving for Ferrari, etc, which he had to backtrack once Nico said no, he was indeed done.

        1. Come on you make it sound like TW is out there trying to stir things up like a fiend wringing his hands or something. For example ‘a lot to say about Rosberg?’ Really? Or was he just answering a question in one interview that has now been rehashed in other articles as always happens. And he retracted it anyway. And it’s irrelevant. He has said they themselves are now the underdog, when they were not leading either the WDC or WCC chase. We have all seen what seems to be Ferrari cars that are better with the tires at more diverse tracks, and they continue to lead the WDC and only lag in the WCC as of Montreal’s unique circumstances.

          I don’t think TW has said anything that doesn’t carry a valid argument with it…that he can’t substantiate with good reasons for said remarks.

    5. Thinking back to the off-season, I do not think Renault saw Magnussen turning down their offer of 1 year, leaving them stuck with Palmer. I bet they would make a better offer to Magnussen knowing what they know now.

      1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
        18th June 2017, 6:06

        Magnussen was pretty vocal about getting a firm commitment from the team that he would be signing with. Although he did not specifically state that he wanted a multi-year deal in his public statements, he’d said that he was disappointed by the way Renault dragged on their signing process. It is more likely that Renault did not foresee Magnussen having discussions with another team.

      2. Fukobayashi (@)
        19th June 2017, 14:03

        They should have attempted to get Vergne back in the car. Solid driver who was all but on a par with Ricciardo, French and leagues ahead of Palmer in terms of talent.

    6. There’s a lot of shyte coming out of Toto Wolff’s mouth these days such as “Vettel is #1 at Ferrari, Mercedes are now the underdogs, Rosberg might return to F1, Rosberg was the vicious one” etc. While good for publicity, these comments should be read in the context of a very tight battle for both World Championship crowns, where they are designed to play mind-games with Ferrari as well as within his own team, and the upcoming negotiations with drivers for 2018 where he hopes that his comments will persuade Hamilton to stay put as well as indicate that he’s put out feelers to Rosberg (and been snubbed) in case Hamilton decides to move.

      Oh yes, do not disregard the fact that Lewis Hamilton has already won the DWC with two teams and should he move to Ferrari/RBR and ultimately win the DWC with both of them, he will equal Fangio’s record (Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes and Ferrari). He’s only 32 so he’s got plenty of time to do this.

      1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
        18th June 2017, 5:47

        I’m not sure that these kinds of comments are good for publicity. Making statements about a driver after his retirement, especially a world champion, is quite poor of Wolff. Rosberg may or may not have been the vicious one, but honestly, who gives a crap at this juncture? Everyone has moved on, and are talking about Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso.

        I doubt Hamilton would make a move elsewhere, firstly given the fact that he is completely at home, and in control at Mercedes. Secondly, Ferrari and RBR have enough talent, both junior as well as senior, to look after without having to worry about yet another multiple world champion. Thirdly, Mercedes will not let go of their only active champion, as the toll on fan following and sponsorship would be quite high.

        1. You make a compelling case but for one aspect – ego. I am sure that Hamilton when he ultimately retires will want to be remembered as the greatest driver of his generation if not of all time, same as do Alonso and Vettel. Alonso realises that he can no longer do this in F1, therefore he dreams of the Triple Crown. With the change in form of Ferrari this season Vettel, who already leads Hamilton 4 – 3 and is two years younger, knows that he is in a good position to maintain his lead and eventually claim the record of poles and race wins outright. And Hamilton knows that if he stays at Mercedes, history will record that the reason that he’s at the top of the pile is not due to his own talent but the superiority of Mercedes over the past three seasons – just as Schumacher is not recognised as the greatest because he was the undisputed number one driver of Ferrari from 1996 to 2006 where his teammates were contractually obligated to cede victory to MS should they find themselves in front.

          Mind you, there is also a strong case to be made for staying at Mercedes as should he move, he runs the risk of being paired with a team mate who outperforms him! Never in his career (with the exception of Kovalainen) has Hamilton outperformed or destroyed drivers of the calibre that Alonso (Trulli, Fisichella, Massa, Räikkönen) and Vettel (Bourdais who won the Champ Car series four years in a row, Webber and Räikkönen) have. And not only Hamilton but also the teams that will conceivably be in a position to fight for the WC over the next few years; Ferrari, RBR and possibly Renault, will be aware of this too and rather retain/sign Verstappen, Hülkenberg or Sainz.

          1. Up to the point in time of this conversation I am still convinced TW will bring in FA for next year. He has pointed out that many drivers are contracted for next year already but that for 2019 things open up. We know that is a fact. But which drivers will want to move and which will want to stay, but more importantly which teams will want to retain or change drivers is up in the air. Much is going to depend on who wins the Championships this year.

            TW cannot assume anymore that they are going to win this year or next. They no longer have the front row locked out nor the top two tiers on the podium almost guaranteed at every race.

            So it remains a mystery as to whether LH for example will still feel, once his contract ends, that Mercedes is the place to be. Or that TW will want to retain him. This is why I simply cannot see TW passing up FA while he is available and burning for a worthy ride. He’s ripe for the picking while TW can offer him a chance and while he might, perhaps even already does, feel the need for more than a natural number one and two on the team. He’ll want FA not only to strengthen Mercedes’ chance against Ferrari who may be becoming the new benchmark, but to keep him going elsewhere, and to cover his bases in case LH wants to leave, or in case he doesn’t want LH anymore. Another thing to watch for is LH’s attitude if they fail to have the necessary car for him to win the WDC and will he throw the team under the bus again for that.

            I am also wondering about the Renault factor, although they have already implied they would not be ready for FA next year with a worthy car, so does that mean FA takes a chance anyway due to no options or does it mean they’ll only keep improving and actually help bring RBR back up as well as themselves, and give some more possibilities for 2019 and beyond for drivers.

            But for now I say the next, and almost only thing that can happen for next year of significance, bar Kimi potentially being replaced at Ferrari, is for TW to welcome FA, as I see it as a no-brainer, and then it will be a fascinating silly season through 2018 for 2019’s grid.

            1. Excellent post, Robbie! I think that we’re agreed then that FA is the key to the 2018 driver market and that (probably) everyone else will wait until that is known before making their own minds up as to where they themselves want to be next year. This will probably mean that we’ll have a later-than-usual silly season, in September rather than July-August (except for who will replace Palmer at Renault?).

              On another note, here too could be be a clue as to the cause of the in-race desperation shown by (primarily) Sainz but also how Perez will go against what is best for the team in order to stay ahead of Ocon.

            2. @Henrik Thanks for the compliment. As I suggest, there won’t be too much significant movement for next year in term is numbers of moves, FA and possible Kimi being the biggies, but then for 2019 LH hasn’t yet got a contract nor has SV, nor Max nor Danial from what I understand. These guys and their teams will be spending 2018 sussing that out.

            3. I don’t think ALO will go to Merc as BOT will be good enough and HAM will not let it happen. HAM has already said it will neverhappen as it would be a toxic situation. I think HAM also knows there is a good chance ALO would beat him and HAM’s glory from beating ALO in the past would vanish.
              I think it is more likely Ferrari would bring him back, especially if Kimi or VET underperforms and it costs RED a WCC.
              Renault doesn’t seem to want him anymore – probably because they know he would bring added pressure in his quest to win a WDC sooner than they can produce.
              But in the end, I think it’s more likely Honda will make big enough gains coupled with him realizing he has nowhere to go, to stay with McLaren.

          2. With all due respect, amongst the greatest champions of modern F-1, Hamilton was the one with the thoughest team-mates during his career. Regardless of team orders, Irvine and Barrichello wouldn’t beat Schumacher during a whole season. Apart from his two Prost years and De Angelis in 85, Senna had no real opposition. Prost faced an ageing Lauda and Senna in his prime, ok, that’s though, but not for as many years as Hamilton had to deal with Alonso, Button and Rosberg. Alonso destroyed both a Massa and a Raikkonen past their primes, and matched a young Hamilton. Vettel is the most untested of all great champions. Webber was not bad for a number 2, in his own words, and only offered a challenge in 2010. Ricciardo beat him convincingly in 2014, but for now it is regarded as an off-year for Vettel

      2. Well we all clearly saw that Rosberg was the “vicious” one. The way he rammed Hamilton in Spa, how he cheated in Monaco to get pole, when he rammed into Hamilton in Spain, the way he completely ignored the waved yellow flags in Hungary. The list goes on and on really.

        People complain when Hamilton took his racing line when he was entitled to it, but Rosberg did the same when he had it. In fact he rammed into Hamilton in Austria when he didn’t even have the right to the racing line. Tried it again on Verstappen in Germany. Tried it again on Hamilton in Canada, but feigned being pushed off by Hamilton instead and later showed he does know the rules when he didn’t pull the same stunt on Verstappen and finally followed the rules of overtaking.

        Not just those seasons, but before too. For instance when he shoved both Alonso and Hamilton off track on a straight in Abu Dhabi (or was it Bahrain?). It even caused a rule change to ban that behavior. Which makes it all the more weir that when he pulled the same stunt again in Spain they let him off … again.

        I guess his trick was the blond hair and blue eyes innocence act which seemed to work on the stewards.

        1. Sorry PatrickI, this is a conversation between grown-ups who are not interested in your fairy tales.

        2. @wayne Just my opinion of course but I don’t think ‘good enough’ will be good enough for Mercedes. They want the best. And LH will not have a say. As I have said several weeks ago I find LH’s ‘toxic’ comment quite funny because it takes two to tango. FA would only be ‘toxic’ if the atmosphere was toxic and that would take some toxicity from LH to create that. If LH figures he himself would be calm cool and collected, exactly what would FA have to be toxic about. LH does not get to dictate to Mercedes as a team or a corporation their direction. And he was the toxic one last year with his accusations toward them favouring Nico. And after the multi-year rivalry TW just experienced, I don’t think he would mind a year of FA/LH and then see what happens for 2019 after that. And remember, FA/LH were last together 10 years ago and TW has implied that was then and this is now, which makes LH’s toxic comment an obvious attempt to ward off someone he thinks would be hard to beat, but then we all know that. I’m sure LH would love them to keep VB and love to see FA retire.

          1. And he was the toxic one last year with his accusations toward them favouring Nico.

            This website isn’t just an excellent source of F1 related news, it’s also a great archive of F1 history from the last decade. It shouldn’t be hard to find Hamilton’s “accusations”, yet I can’t find any. Could you provide a source?

            1. Well of course you would be well aware of his mention of his team switching crews ‘for no apparent reason’ inspiring TW to publish a letter defending the 1500 staff involved in their F1 effort. The comments that Nico hadn’t a single worry about reliability, only he did. Culminating of course in his remarks ahead of the last race of the season about writing a tell all book in 10 years or so after he was no longer in F1, revealing the teams favouritism.

              Oh I’m sure you experienced all this yourself last year unless you don’t listen to interviews of LH, but I suspect you sarcastically expect me to produce direct quotes of LH directly and far less subtly accusing Mercedes of sabotage, which of course he only ever left as subtle and sulky remarks such as the strangeness that amongst all the Mercedes powered cars only his had issues.

              Perhaps you could ask Dr. Zeutshe I believe it was why, when he saw on the display of his home phone that TW was calling him, his immediate thought was ‘what now about LH,’ when indeed it was about Nico retiring.

              Go ahead and sweep it all under the carpet if you wish, but don’t insultingly act like I invented LH’s chosen verbal path last year.

            2. @robbie That’s just twisting reality, tabloid style. He was talking about reliability, and he had the right to complain about it, just as Alonso is well within his right to complain about it, or any other driver hit by a series of unfortunate events, but he was never accusing his team of doing it deliberately. Switching crews was indeed unusual, but he didn’t say anything about favouritism either.

              Yes, Lewis said: “You’ll have to buy my book down the line in ten years when I tell you exactly what happened. It’ll be an interesting read.” But Nico’s comments mirror that: “I lost my mechanics, too. I also had to give him two of my engineers at the beginning of his time at Mercedes. That’s the full truth. I could write a book about the rest. Maybe I will, one day. There are so many crazy and interesting stories.”

              But in reality Lewis was defending his new crew: “My new mechanics that have come on board, it started out really tough with us on the beginning of the year. Particularly I would say on their say because they just didn’t understand what was going on. And then we have all those problems. On social media they felt a lot of heat from fans thinking people were blaming them when it was nothing to do with them. And then we had a lot of success so I’ve got a really great relationship with them. So I’m very proud of the unit I have now. Of course I feel we have worked to the points of deserving the championship this year.”

              A lot of heat from fans. That’s exactly how I remember it. Fans were making a fuss about it, accusing Mercedes of favouritism, one way or the other. Poor journalism in some cases helped to reinforce that perception, but I’m yet to see an actual accusation from either driver. That’s why I was asking for the source.

            3. @maroonjack Sounds like you are trying to sweep under the carpet LH’s tone last year by only highlighting some positive wording of LH’s that he said only after he had awkwardly thrown his team under the bus and knew it.

            4. @robbie Again, no sources, no quotes, nothing. No surprise there.

              So you didn’t like Hamilton’s tone? Well, can’t argue with that, but in this case your only argument is that you don’t like Hamilton and you think that he was implying something. I think he wasn’t. I don’t find anything unusual about his tone. In my opinion and opinions of many others he was just angry about his bad luck and that’s about it. There wasn’t a single accusation coming from Hamilton and he wasn’t throwing anyone under heavy road vehicles.

              Hamilton’s quotes above actually come from the same interview (the one about the book and about his crew). It gives more balanced picture than picking and choosing soundbites which in a way, sort of, kind of might look like he’s implying something he’s not.

    7. The fact the Kubica is feeling confident is good news for Renault. They need a capable driver besides Hulkenberg to push the cars into points consistently. It is even better for Renault if Palmer understands that he is expendable and starts finding the pace on race weekends.

      1. The very possibility of a Hunkenburg and Kubica lineup at Renault has me excited for the future of the sport. It took Rosberg ten years to finally get a championship, and that was a good story. Imagine the Renault team becoming competitive with those two at the wheel. Great stories ahead, I hope.

        1. And after Button with Brawn in 2009, I started to believe that everything is possible in F-1

    8. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      18th June 2017, 8:10

      Oh well, just like I said, many will disagree! But I don’t think people realize that Maldonado just wasn’t a bad driver in 2015. Even in 2014 he was a huge about better than he used to be. 2015 may not have looked very impressive for a drivers 5th season but he certainly was decent, he just had an extremely unlucky season. Far to often, he was the innocent victim of multiple incidents. He had 10 retirements over the season so that is half the season! Only 1 retirement looked to be his fault. Grosjean was better in qualifying but his race pace wasn’t that much worse really. Sometimes better actually. Basically, he still got called his usual “Crashter” name even though it was pretty much always technical problems or other drivers that were responsible for his retirements. Even great drivers such as Alonso and Button made Maldonado retire that year. Button crashed into him in China and Alonso made him retire too in his final race. Then in the first race the year after, Alonso had another clumsy moment taking out another car. All drivers make mistakes. But Maldonado’s attitude and skill had changed in his last season and I think he deserved another season. So few people seem to remember his performances that year. He had an outstanding race in Canada and especially Austria. His bad luck made him look worse than he really was. One occasion I can remember him being at fault for his retirement was possibly Spa. But even that seemed really unlucky. He cut the corner near the fastest part of the track and the car just died on him. Yes, he did cut it quite a bit, but I don’t get how his car just gave up suddenly. The other drivers cut that corner a little bit throughout the entire race. That Lotus just seemed so fragile.

      Based on Maldonado’s most recent form and because of his experience, I still think he will be about the best choice for Renault if they don’t go for one of the other drivers that is currently on the grid.

      1. @thegianthogweed

        He was dreadful in 2015. F1 Fanatic ranked him as the worst driver in the year. He got into a lot of stupid clashes in the first half of the season, such as hitting Massa in Bahrain, Grosjean in Spain and ruining Perez’s race in Hungary. He cost himself a points finish in Bahrain by stalling the engine, although I agree he was a tad unlucky, he was driving in the fourth best car at the time.

        His Canada and Austria performances were nothing special, Maldonado was running a long way behind Grosjean in Canada until Grosjean made an error, in Austria Maldonado was a long way behind Hulkenberg whilst driving a much better car at that stage of the season. At Hungary, he picked up three penalties and ended up only ahead of Merhi.

        He ended his own race by hitting the kerbs in Spa and for the rest of the year he kept the policy keep it clean, but he was very slow. Outqualified by over a second in Russia and near to that in Singapore too, he simply lacked pace as he tried to keep the car on track, showed as he finished behind a McLaren and a Sauber in Russia and USA. He also took out Ericsson in Brazil too. Overall, Maldonado doesn’t deserve a chance back in F1 at any costs, he was dangerous and reckless and seemed to lose his mega pace by the end of his career.

        If your talking about mid-season then Kubica or Sirotkin would be an obvious choice, Kubica was a world-beater in pace, he took average BMW Sauber’s and Renault to victory. Sirotkin has mileage in that car, and has a good junior record and was pretty close to Hulk’s pace in practice. If about the end of the year, then Perez and Grosjean will be available and up for signing.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          18th June 2017, 12:04

          While a lot of the facts you have said are true. I still think there were quite a few drivers that were worse than Maldonado that year. In Canada, he most certainly wasn’t way behind Grosjean. He was only a couple of seconds behind and got past as soon as Grosjean made that mistake. In Austria, it wasn’t just me that thought he did a very good job, I think he got the 3rd most motes for drivers of the day on the Planet F1 forum. He had a lot of very impressive overtakes such as 2 cars in 2 corners and even the commentates were saying his race was looking really strong that day. Not that this is a good thing as it would have been better if he didn’t loose control but I think he quite possibly had the save of the season too. Even if that Lotus was a good car, Grosjean and Maldonado certainly made it look a handful to drive.

          I don’t understand why Sauber would have tried to get hold of him this year even though he wouldn’t get his sponsors if they thought he was “dangerous and reckless”.

          I think it was Sauber anyway. He did have the opportunity if he wanted to. Teams are not stupid and they must believe he is decent if they first chose him over either Wehrlein or Ericsson. If he had accepted this, then he would have been in F1 this year. I did say that many may disagree but if teams a team was wanting him back, I don’t think he can be that bad.

            1. Thanks for the link, I laughed out loud a couple of times. Guido and Pastor and Lance are hopefully relics of the Bernie era. Maybe we will see more factory teams coming forward now that the game has (slightly) changed.

    9. I think there are plenty of very good candidates on and off the grid to replace Palmer. Maldonado or Kubica are not one of those,…

      1. Maldonado and Kubica are proven Grand Prix winners, i’m sure both of them (fitness permitting in Kubica’s case) would do a much better job than Palmer and could even give Hülkenberg a run for his money.

      2. @xtwl I’m sure for next season Sainz, Perez and Grosjean will be available. And of course they are all better than Maldonado.

      3. I would take a candidate with proven F1 experience. And whilst Kubica and Maldonado have their downsides they are proven F1 racers. @xtwl
        All the new talents remain big question marks until they enter F1. Look at Vandoorne, Stroll, and even Wehrlein. All struggling more in F1 than their previous career would make you expect.

        PS the good news is that Porsche is bound to win Le Mans ;)

    10. My memories of the Rosberg / Hamilton battles were that Hamilton was generally the one playing mind games.
      Regarding vicious driving style my perception is that Rosberg changed how he drove to combat and match Hamilton, but still within the rules, more aggressive, giving less space if he didn’t need to etc.

      1. TW’s wording on this might be affected by the fact that LH is still on the team. He’s not necessarily about to say LH gave as good as he got. And of course the LH/NR relationship goes a long way back, so Nico was not likely to have treated another driver the same way.

        1. I expect that Nico will write a book (sooner than later) about the whole thing, and it will be followed by Lewis doing the same. Classic F1 bromance.

    11. I believe that Renault urging Palmer to score soon and conducting a 115 lap test with a driver eager to return are pointing in one direction, especially that the team was never afraid to replace one of their driver during the season. The return of Kubica would be a marketing dream for Renault, fairy tale of the year or the decade, but I’m not sure it could happen. The market is depending on where Alonso lands in 2018, and if it is Renault, it’s an even harder question to answer wheter to replace Palmer until the rest of this season or not, as the replacer will not have his seat next year. If Alonso is out of the picture, I would seriously take Sebastien Buemi or Jean-Eric Vergne into consideration after Formula-E seasons ended in the summer, especially as Buemi drives there for works Renault team. I don’t really see how Sirotkin could be promoted or how he could improve Renault’s situation, and even if Pastor Maldonado has the raw speed required by Formula-1, I don’t really think he improved his mentality anything since his first season.

      1. I can only see Soritkin as a benchmark, not a contender for the Renault seat. Alonso burnt some large bridges, and Kubica is a PR dream. JEV and Buemi are no longer interesting choices. If Renault gambles and wins with Robert Kubica, it would be an outstanding move.

        1. Well, why not put Kubica into the same machinery and let him drive a free practice together with Palmer, not Sirotkin in very different cars? Wouldn’t that give the team more data points and food for thought?

        2. Fukobayashi (@)
          19th June 2017, 14:14

          JEV and Buemi are solid choices who would perform well.

      2. If Renault considers seriously to replace Palmer, FP1 appearances should signal it first, that would be the real deal. If they were going for Kubica, a whole winter preparation phase might also be essential to support his efforts.

    12. Maldonado was indeed fast and not without talent, but his rashness and his tendency for getting his car damaged could cost points if it means engine or other penalty-sensitive components getting damaged along the way. So when weighing up his ability to score points, that should also be noted.
      But more importantly – and I realise I am only a spectator, so all I can offer is my opinion from the outside looking in – in terms of talent I don’t think Maldonado holds a candle to Kubica. At the time of his accident Kubica was widely considered one of the top drivers and a (future) title contender, something you could never say about Maldonado. Kubica was Renault’s lead driver and filled that role superbly, so if the team still recognises that same ability in him, then a Kubica return for part of this season could also be an audition for lead driver and a challenge to the Hulk.

      1. Fine analysis, cheers!

    13. Regarding Kubica, of course how could I possibly do anything but speculate, as for all of us, but I’m a bit surprised all this talk of a potential return is based on a test in a 2012 car. Shouldn’t he and all those inside F1 relevant to RK’s future in F1, if there is indeed one, be finding out how he can do in a 2017 car, let alone try to figure out if he can race one in anger? Can his arm handle an F1 level shunt? Can he get out of the car in the required number of seconds? These are just things I’m unclear about that I don’t seem to be reading about beyond how good he was or could have been and may or may not still be after his 6 year absence.

      1. lets be realist and not negative. what is the required amount of seconds? many drivers after a crash sit in the car and think, and dont instantly jump out. if Kubica can get out of an upside down WRC car,having to open doors etc, than how is an f1 car a problem? he will know if it is, and wouldnt be testing if he cant. can his arm handle a crash??? his arm is already damaged enough!! how much more can it get damaged? when was the last time an f1 driver injured their arm in an f1 crash???

        1. @kpcart No for sure I wasn’t trying to be negative which is why I qualified my post as being purely speculative.

          I do know that the required number of seconds is very few…like 3 to 5. The fact that most drivers sit there is not the point at all. It is about whether or not they can get out very very quickly in case of fire (usually). It is an FIA requirement that they be able to, when needed, evacuate quickly.

          Also it is not the point that his arm can’t be damaged any more than it already is, in your opinion. You would think that a team hiring him for a season or more would want to know that one hard crash in and he’d be sidelined again. Maybe drivers don’t generally hurt their arms, but is RK’s more fragile, is all I’m pondering. It just makes me think of drivers, or even hockey players for example who get concussed. They recover and they feel fine, but the requirement for their return should be how they would do if they were to get another knock on the head quite soon after recovery. It’s the worst case scenarios that have to be planned for.

          I’m really just curious more than anything. I’d have a lot fewer misgivings about this recent hype over RK if he had put 115 laps into a 2017 car and we had heard more details about his true readiness.

          1. Kubica talked about difference between 2012 and 2017. He said that going faster by 10 kph in current car around the corners is not a problem for him. Only real question left is how he would perform on circuits like Monaco – this is what Renault mentioned.

        2. When I was in Formula SAE we had 5 seconds to get out. Since the lead Scrutineers (Michael & Suzanne Royce) came from F1 they professed FIA safety rules to a T in the competition. God**mn they were sticklers. But for good reason.

      2. Shouldn’t he and all those inside F1 relevant to RK’s future in F1 […] be finding out how he can do in a 2017 car,
        – If he’s able to drive a 2012 car then he’s able to drive a 2017 car as well. It makes no difference.
        His problem was operating the steering wheel with his right arm in the confines of a tight F1 cockpit. Cockpits haven’t shrunk since 2012.

        Can his arm handle an F1 level shunt?
        – Why wouldn’t it? His fractures healed… 7 years ago. His decreased arm functionality has to do with neurological/muscle/tendon disability, not with a bone illness.

        Can he get out of the car in the required number of seconds?
        – He wouldn’t get the super licence if he wasn’t. Getting out of the car in a given number of seconds is one of the tests drivers go through each time they come back from an injury.

        1. @damon Fair enough. If you know that there is this level of confidence in RK’s ability to return to racing in anger in these new harder to drive cars then so be it. I hadn’t picked up on the concept that he is some sort of shoe in for a return, and thought it was all still quite speculative. As I say above, if he had actually tested and done 115 laps in a 2017 car I’d be thinking he may be returning. Why hasn’t he tested a 2017 car if you’re so sure of RK’s readiness?

          Can you say with certainty that his damaged arm would not be more easily compromised in a crash than someone with no arm issue? Is he able to excercise his arm and keep up it’s strength like the other drivers? Perhaps. I personally don’t know. You seem to. That’s fine.

          And if you’re saying he has his super license which is why he was able to do the test, that’s fine too and I agree must mean that evacuating the car in the required time is not an issue. I know that Martin Brundle wasn’t sure if that was the case for RK when they discussed his test in the pre-race shows ahead of Montreal. But if you know the facts, that’s fine. Brundle still seemed to have questions/concerns.

          1. “Why hasn’t he tested a 2017 car if you’re so sure of RK’s readiness?” – because nobody knew what to expect from him after 6 years absence and due to testing ban only opportunity to test 2017 is Friday practice – which would mean loss of valuable track time for one of current race drivers. His surprisingly good performance in 2012 car created question which wasn’t there before: What we do next?

            1. @Rafal Fair comment.

          2. Why hasn’t he tested a 2017 car if you’re so sure of RK’s readiness?
            – How do you obtain a 2017 car? It’s not like Renault has produced a dozen of new cars and keeps them all over Europe for drivers to have a go at them!
            If they currently have a 2012 car and staff for it ready to have it perform at Goodwood or somewhere else, then that’s what you get to test.

            And as for his readiness, I can only trust in what Robert AND THE TEST TEAM say. Whether it is 100% accurate, I don’t know, but after 7 years if Kub couldn’t race the car then he wouldn’t say he could.

            Can you say with certainty that his damaged arm would not be more easily compromised in a crash than someone with no arm issue?
            – Who cares if it were in the first place??
            Who has ever injured an arm in an F1 crash in the last 20 years?

            Is he able to excercise his arm and keep up it’s strength like the other drivers?
            – Obviously not. So what?
            Is the 36 year old Alonso have the same stamina as the 20 year old drivers? No, he can’t. So what?

            1. Has RK actually said he is ready to race in F1 again and that is his goal? Or has he and his test team just said things like he was surprised at how ‘easy’ it was and that he could do it at all, like your comment further down suggests? So far all we know is he can successfully test a 2012 car. Not race for a full season in a 2017 car…test a 2012 car.

              You seem to have an answer for everything but I think I’ll wait to hear more official wording as to where if anywhere it goes from here for him and F1. If he comes back, I’ll be thrilled for him and it will be a blast to see how he does.

            2. Has RK actually said he is ready to race in F1 again and that is his goal?
              – I’ve just read a long interview in Polish with Rob. The situation is that up until the recent test he didn’t even know if he would be able to drive an F1 car at all. So once this fundamental question is out of the way, more questions are to be answered and he will try to use every opportunity to answer them. This is why he accepted the invitation to drive the car at the Goodwood Festival – he wants to have more minutes in the car, whatever the circumstance.

              “So far all we know is he can successfully test a 2012 car. Not race for a full season in a 2017 car…test a 2012 car.”
              Oh stop with the “2017 not 2012” car distinction, will ya? There is no relevant (for Kubica) difference between a 2012 and a 2017.

            3. The difference is a test in a 2012 car is not the same as being hired as a driver in the current cars as a full time driver. Someone will have to take a big leap of faith in him for him to have that chance. Is anyone talking about doing that?

    14. “It turned out that (driving an F1 car) is not as scary and remote as it seemed to be. I can even admit that an F1 car was one of the easiest machines to drive with my limitations after my accident.”

      If that is the case, and if his laptimes were good… Stick him in #2 Renault ASAP. If he gets a win or two… massive publicity for the team.

      1. Wins at this point are incredibly unlikely for Renault, unless you were talking metaphorically.

      2. Agreed if this is true just get him that seat!

    15. Is there any reason Renault couldn’t give Kubica some seat time in their current generation car? Couldn’t they run him during FP1?

      1. They could but they are not so committed to employ Kubica yet. Friday practice is valuable track time and they will not give it away easily.

        1. With Palmer they are wasting that car anyway. Would it really cost Renault anything if they let Kubica take over FP1 from Palmer?

          1. We don’t know what is happening behind the scene. Maybe we will see Kubica in FP1 or maybe it will never happen because Renault are waiting for Alonso or Perez.

      2. There was no reason for that. The question in that test was not how fast Kubica could drive the car, but if he could drive it at all.

    16. Palmer is obviously a good driver, but he has yet to show even a flash of brilliance in the last year and a half, which is what F1 teams should aspire to. He is a future Indycar or Formula E driver, but the present Renault situation dictates a change is in order. They don’t need money, they need talent.

    17. Strongly disagree with COTD.

      Now’s the perfect time to put Kubica back in the seat. The car isn’t a frontrunner, meaning slightly less spotlight and pressure on Robert to perform. Give him half a season to see how he gets on, in the hope he can help develop the 2018 car.

      As much as Maldonado’s money is nice, they’re a manufacturer and shouldn’t be relying on such money.

      Plus, you put an average driver in an average car, you’d be a fool to expect anything other than average results.

    18. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      19th June 2017, 11:58

      The first few words of my comment were “Many will disagree here” You don’t have to agree.

      I think Maldonado would be a better choise than Kubica just because he’s had more recent experience in the sport as well as with the team. Well, Lotus anyway. Maldoado has also has to years experience of the new and totally different hybrid era which will also help. I wouldn’t be that surprised if they went for him. Sauber tried to get him for this year but he wanted a more compettetive seat. While he clearly wasn’t as good as other drivers, I still don’t think he was that bad in 2015, but most people seem to think differently. A few people on another f1 forum I often use think he wasn’t that bad either in 2015 and not that much worse than Grosjean. Even though he did still make quite a few mistakes, bad luck made him look far worse than he was. He did have several strong drives.

      Maybe some other drivers would be a better option For Renault. But I think maldonado has a better chance to get back into the sport than Kubica does since Maldonado had the option to race this year even without his sponsors.

      1. Again, i’d have to disagree.

        I don’t see how a potential world champion has a lesser chance of re-entering the sport than someone who was proven to be crash prone and horribly inconsistent at best.

        But I suppose it depends on the needs of the team.

        Renault are a manufacturer and should be aiming high. Technically, money shouldn’t be so much of an issue to them, either. Going for a Maldonado will only hinder them in the long term. They need a truly talented driver to help bring the team forward. Kubica was extremely highly rated during his F1 tenure, something which Maldonado never truly was. Even after his win, many said it was down to the Williams car being kind on the tyres. I don’t necessarily agree with that, as every team had the same set of rules to work from.

        But I do see your rationale. I don’t think he’s quite as bad as people said. I just struggle to see how he’d be a better fit than Robert. I see what you’re saying regarding ‘more recent experience’, but a great driver shouldn’t take too long to acclimatise.

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