Robert Kubica, Renault, Valencia, 2017

Kubica says his chance of an F1 return is “80 or 90 percent”

2017 F1 season

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Robert Kubica has given the strongest indication yet he will return to Formula One over five years after begin injured in a rally crash.

The former Renault driver told Auto Express he previously put his chances of an F1 return at “10 or maximum 20 percent”.

Robert Kubica, Renault, Valencia, 2017
Kubica tested for Renault last month
Asked for his view now on the likelihood of it happening now, Kubica said “because I’m very realistic, and I’m keeping my feet on the ground, I’d put it at 80 or 90 percent.”

Kubica drove an F1 car for the first time since his 2011 crash when he tested for Renault at Valencia last month. He also drove one of the team’s cars at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend.

He said he was stunned by how positive his test has been. “I was shocked, to be honest,” said Kubica. “It was really, really impressive, feeling-wise.”

“I’m not talking about pace there – a few tenths here, a few tenths there – but the feeling and the impression I had, straight away, were amazing.”

“You build up your own question marks, based on how you know yourself and your body,” he explained, “and then if you’d asked me about them after even the first run at Valencia, they were gone, gone, gone, gone.”

“Once my comfort, or let’s say limitation things, were gone in three laps, I could concentrate on trying to get back to the proper rhythm,” Kubica added. “I’m surprised how it felt.”

“It felt for me like I hadn’t driven for one month, not six years.”

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Keith Collantine
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  • 77 comments on “Kubica says his chance of an F1 return is “80 or 90 percent””

    1. At this point in time Kubica is talking more than he needs to!

      1. Indeed! This man has been so quiet, shying from media, in the last 6 years. Now he’s 90% sure he will return to F1 racing? Sounds like someone has a pre-agreement for 2018.

        1. Penfold (@tony-vandervell)
          4th July 2017, 15:17

          Bad news for Palmer….

          1. Bad news for Palmer’s Dad; spent millions and gets bupkus

            1. I’m pretty sure that was an expendable reserve of money. Joylon’s dad didn’t get that rich by making junk investments his whole life.

        2. what’s strange, eh?
          he was not sure he was able to do the job, he tried to forget, winning WRC2 in the meantime, plus few stages in WRC with non factory team
          and suddenly, thanx to Renault, surprisingly for him too, he is able to compete in F1 NOW

          should he wait 1-2 years to say hello I am ready?? he is 32 – so this is now or never

      2. Van Halen is notorious for keeping quiet and ignoring the world for years at a time, until they’re 100% certain they’re going on tour… and even they’re coy about it. To me, “80 or 90%” means “we’ve almost got the salary figured out” ;)

      3. I’m speculating. I’d think Robert must have enormous difficulties in changing all the steering settings. The 10 or 20 percent must be something to do with the FIA, to grant special dispensation and allow the team to change those steering wheel parameters remotely or to provide some type of semi autonomous system. I think if that is the case, this season is probably not going to be possible, perhaps the FIA is going to make it easier for the next season.

        1. @peartree I know you said you are speculating, but I’m still surprised you even suggested ‘this season’ for RK. I don’t see how he could possibly be ready, nor do I think that would be fair to, presumably Palmer, who is under contract, nor to RK himself who might find if thrown into the deep end, he’s struggling and doing no better than Palmer, and being branded that way.

          Let’s just wait and see if there is an official announcement that indeed he is able to get out of a car in the small number of seconds required etc etc…that he is officially qualified and on the market and that there is a team interested in hiring him.

        2. Jorge Olivier
          5th July 2017, 21:07

          It was reported that he changes gears, both up and down, with the left hand. Since many controls are designed to the drivers’ like -I don’t think there is a regulation about it- I’m guessing he uses a steering wheel specially designed for him.

    2. it would be a good moment for Ferrati to pull a shock-move and sign him instead of renewing Kimi. And if that happens, i can imagine Romain commiting suicide with a haas brake disc :D

      1. Romain commiting suicide with a haas brake disc

        @matiascasali – I had to LOL at that 😀

      2. @matiascasali That’s really a good one! :@)

        1. @matiascasali He could try, but it would probably fail…

          1. Anything like the brakes so far it would definitely be a fail👍

      3. Omg haha, good one !

      4. +1 funny comment, poor Romain

    3. It would be nice to see him alongside Hülkenberg next year. Hülkenberg will be a good benchmark and if Kubica performs, it will be good for Renault too.

      1. If Palmer doesn’t get any points amd they can’t lure Alonso back to the team, what really is there to lose? For Kubica though would be a do or die season

        1. I sure can’t see Renault luring FA back when they have just said they are 2 or 3 years away from winning, which could easily be 5 or 6 then, depending on the thousand other factors such as other teams dominating etc etc, including by then they will likely have a different engine format. FA would be better off staying with McHonda if his only other option was Renault.

    4. “…after even the first run at Valencia, they were gone, gone, gone, gone.”

      welcome back Robert, I am so happy seeing you so happy :)))

      Forza Kubica!

    5. I’ll believe it when I see it….but I’m SO hoping

      1. Yeah me too, I’ll take it when it happens,

        hope he gets his second chance,

        But yeah sincerely hope he has the pace and still got it overall ! @maciek

    6. Kubica is fluent in Italian, having karted there as a youngster where he found the support the Polish government refused him. So a move to Ferrari??

      Wishful thinking, of course, on my part. I would so love to see him back!

      1. Woah, why would a country’s government give money to some kid? This makes no sense.

        1. Fangio’s F1 career was paid by the national government, so its nothing new…

          1. Maldonado, Haryanto. Not that I want to put these two in the same bracket as Fangio, just examples

    7. That’s a strange thing to say even if you do have a contract. Could this be lost in translation? Could he be saying he is 80-90% sure that he CAN race in F1 again?

      1. No, I don’t think this is a translation issue. He’s already said that he’s certain that he can do it.

    8. Maybe a Renault seat if sai and alo refuses…or a way to put pressure on the vacant driver – saying there is alternatives…

    9. But does he have super license?

      1. FIA are able to award a superlicense without the points at their discretion. I don’t see them denying Kubica one.

        1. @repete86, depending on his mobility within the cockpit, they could potentially deny him a licence on medical grounds – in the past, there were reports that he was unable to pass part of the medical test (failing to be able to get out of the cockpit without external aid within the minimum evacuation time) to qualify for a superlicence.

          1. Anon agree with your statement but with a test pending a professional outfit like Renualt would have received clarity on the issue of the FIA awarding a Super License. Although it was merely a F1 test, I do believe that the evacuation test needed to be complied with before even getting on track. More importantly so because they don’t a full contingency of marshalls at a private test and getting out of the car unaided would have been an absolute pre requisite.

      2. LovelyLovelyLuffield
        4th July 2017, 16:26

        Under exceptional circumstances Appendix L also allows the FIA to award a Super Licence to a driver who does not meet the normal criteria if a vote reveals unanimous agreement by the members, and provided that the driver has completed 300 kilometres of testing at racing speeds in a current car.

        1. According to one media report (link below) Robert covered 460 km at the Valencia street circuit, which makes me suspect the test circuit is smaller than the one used for the Grand Prix. While this easily exceeded the required distance, the media report also said he did it in a 2012 car, not in a 2017 car, so he can’t use that test as the grounds for getting an exemption from the FIA.

          1. There are two more official F1 tests to be carried out this year: 1st to the 2nd August at the Hungaroring, just after the Hungarian GP, and 28th to the 29th November at Yas Marina, just after the Abu Dhabi GP. If Renault are serious about wanting Robert then he should really be included in the Hungaroring test, and will need to complete 69 laps (total distance 302 km) of the GP configuration.
            At the moment I think he is still at the 10 to 20 percent chance of getting a drive next year, or maybe at a 20 to 30 percent chance. Only after he has travelled 300 km in a current car can he really consider himself in the 80 to 90 percent chance of a seat next year.
            Last year the equivalent test was probably the one at Silverstone, and on the first day of that Renault managed 48 laps (282 km), and on the second day they managed 99 laps (583 km), so only on the second day was a distance covered that would have enabled that driver to get an exemption from the FIA if he needed it.
            I think things are still to dicey for him to be thinking he has even an 80% chance of a seat next year.

      3. Does he need one having driven in F1?

        1. One can’t drive F1 without super-license. That 300km test drive is one way to get it quickly for him(Hard do do in current set of rules). Another thing would be marking him as Renault regular test driver and actually test car rest of the season. That way he would be eligible to have super-license for next season.

      4. Not now. However, he only needs to win one of certain series next year in order to automatically be eligible, and if he can show a return to the form of the previous decade, it would be nearly impossible for the FIA to keep him out of the car forever.

    10. Can’t be true; Joe Saward said so.

      1. Nothing he says is real so you have a point.

    11. 80 or 90 is probably the same percentage for Palmer losing his Renault seat…

    12. That’s it – Robert Kubica with Nico Hulkenberg at Renault in 2018!

    13. Levente (@leventebandi)
      4th July 2017, 17:28

      Autosport says, he will test with Renault later this month, the actual circuit is secret for now at least

    14. Something to look forward to.
      If Palmer doesn’t start scoring points right quick, it would seem prudent for Renault to put RK in the car for the remainder of the season.
      The reliability issue will be interesting to watch. If RK gets the seat and doesn’t get the gremlins that JP is suffering from, it raises the question as to how much influence the driver has on the overall reliability of the package.
      Going to be an interesting time, for sure.
      Musical chairs in the driver market haven’t started, but my guess is we are in for a very entertaining period.

    15. If Kubica returns to F1, he will be a hero …even if he sucks, even if he’s just a mid-pack finisher.

      1. Agree. It’s the fact that he made it back to Formula 1 that is an achievement in itself… anything else is just a bonus.

    16. I would like to see his steering wheel. From what I read it is adapted for him, with the gear levers both on the left and the majority of the buttons as well.
      I wonder if that could be a problem with the complexity of the hybrids and furthermore the starting procedures.

      Maybe this are the sort of things they will try out in the next test

      1. Yes it will be difficult, but then again watching him improve over the years with all his difficulty I must say this man had a really strong will,

        sure he might have to work more than the other drivers but with his kind of passion of the sport, the man can do anything !

      2. @johnmilk I reckon that must be the 10 or 20 percent of uncertainty. Considering his steering wheel is optimized for the left hand that means he must drive with his right to get to change the settings on the wheel, considering the reasons behind that I’m sure the FIA will want to know he’s able to drive safely with his right hand. It’s either that, or perhaps manage to persuade the FIA to make some special dispensation to allow Renault to change the steering wheel setting for him., remotely.

    17. I cannot understand the link between Kubica and Ferrari. Pre-injury he was one of the best on the grid and Ferrari needed a top class driver that much is easy to read. But now all of a sudden after one private test (which we have no data on other than an ‘insider’ saying he was quick) and a ride in a car up a rich mans driveway now he is being considered to be in contention for one of the quickest seats. For me, if he wasn’t linked to Ferrari pre-injury he wouldn’t be linked to the seat now.

      1. But he was linked to a drive alongside Alonso.


        1. if you google it you will see articles from 2013 quoting Stefano saying as much.

        2. I wouldn’t put much behind FA going to Renault since they have just said they won’t be winning for 2 or 3 years. And if that is RK’s only option, if he even does qualify to be back in F1 and gets hired, is that really anything to write home about anyway? RK doesn’t have a lot of time left for F1, just like FA, so perhaps he’d only be held back by going to Renault, but then again perhaps he just wants to be back. Who knows!

    18. Well considering how much he drives that Renault and considering how much Palmer is struggling (often through no fault of his own)…

      We knew Palmer days were numberd the moment Renault grabed that team. No serius car maker would have a pay driver on their books, it’s part of their motivation to even be in this sport.

      Renault is here to sell cars and win races. Mostlly to sell cars. Kubica is a story, greatlly popular in Poland and the World.

      Palmer while not exactlly a poor driver, he is not a better story.

      There are only a handful of Brand A driver brands in F1. Hamilton, Alonso, Verstappen, Vettel. Everyone else is on B list at generating news. Kubica I think would fall in to Brand A news category atleast for a bit, like Alonso did for Indy500.

      Thus it makes total sense for Renault to sign Kubica.

    19. There’s a 10 or 20% chance he won’t return
      Vorderman eat your heart out!

    20. Kubica on his prime would never take a second driver role, but coming back after thinking his career was over and trying to see how far he can go, a Ferrari number 2 deal could be worth taking, but I still think he will replace Palmer at Renault.

    21. Not wanting to set my hopes too high I’m trying to be calm and reasonable about this.

      Ok, forget that, I really do hope Kubica can come back to F1!

    22. GtisBetter (@)
      4th July 2017, 21:26

      I doubt it. In the end f1 is about points and money. I haven’t seen anything that suggests he can do better then some of the young talents, without the upside of growth.

      1. F1, for the manufacturers at least, is about marketing.

        As others have alluded to, Kubica’s potential return would be an unrivalled marketing dream, and that is something that none of the young talents can offer.

        I’ll believe it when I see it, though.

      2. Yep,

        Documentaries, success story articles,great deal of media attention for the first few races, lots of them will come if Kubica makes it, which I hope he will !

      3. The man is a Grand Prix winner, you don’t think he’d do better than at least Palmer, Stroll or some of the other guys?

        1. There is no doubt his pervious ability. But now with imparement? I guess tests showed he is quick.. :D And if he is quick in the car? What else is there, good story good speed.. good reasons to sign him.

    23. Well it will be interesting to see. Can’t say I’m a fan, and from what I’ve read that test he did in a 2012 car was just a favour from some friends that he stays in contact with. It was nothing to do with a return to F1 but just for RK to see how he would do.

      That said, he seems positive about the experience, but I have not read a single thing that suggests someone is interested in hiring him. And of course that’s just from my armchair.

      I’ll be both surprised and fine with his return if he does make it back, and he will be fascinating to watch.

    24. Palmer better have some great races soon. Looks like Kubica has his sights set that seat.

    25. matijaleader
      5th July 2017, 10:27

      Its a weird situation this one… The people from Renault are talking like he wont return fully any time soon, at least not into their team… But Robert himself seems genuinely confident. Really curious to see what is going on here. At the moment im slightly confused

      1. I’m reading it as “Robert will likely come back but not until 2019 or 2020, when he’s had time to get everything organised that he’d need to do justice to his return, thus his situation is not relevant to any discussion on Palmer’s 2017/2018 position”.

    26. “Robert Kubica has given the strongest indication yet he will return to Formula One over five years after begin injured in a rally crash.”

      long live the accuracy lol

    27. I would like Kubica to obtain the super licence and become the Renault test /reserve driver….and at every GP that remains this season… take over a car for FP1…..to give himself and Renault an idea where he now stands…
      I would think Palmer has a contract that keeps him there this season…and Renault although getting better, still have a lot of work to do to make that car reliable

    28. Piotr (@piotrzukowski)
      6th July 2017, 3:47

      In a recent interview (live chat) on a facebook page of one of his sponsors, Kubica clarifies what he meant with the 80-90% statement. Apparently he was talking about him being able to drive on a same level as before the crash and sadly not about the probability of a comeback to racing in F1.
      Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjpKl1wmBRA [in Polish]

      However, I still believe that a return is highly probable.

      1. Hmm. It is indeed an important difference. I for one really doubt he will ever return even if its a shame.

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