Robert Kubica, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Williams confirm Kubica’s return to F1 in 2019

2019 F1 season

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Robert Kubica will return to racing in the 2019 F1 season at Williams, the team has confirmed.

The 33-year-old, who has not started a Formula 1 race since suffering serious injuries in a rally crash in 2011, will partner George Russell at the team next year.

“I would like to thank everyone who has helped me during what was a difficult period of my life over these last few years,” said Kubica. “It has been a challenging journey to make it back to the Formula One grid, but what seemed almost impossible is now beginning to feel possible, as I am excited to be able to say that I will be on the Formula One grid in 2019.

“For sure, it has been a long road to get to this point, but as that challenge now comes to an end with this announcement, a new challenge begins working with Williams on track. It will not be easy, but with hard work and dedication, both George and myself will work together to try and help the team get in better shape to move further up the grid. This year has been tough, but I have learnt a lot, and I’d like to thank Sir Frank and Claire for this opportunity.

“Being back on the F1 grid next season will be one of the greatest achievements of my life, and I’m sure with hard work and commitment we will be able to help motivate the team to achieve good things together. Thank you again to everyone who has supported me and believed in me. I will finally be back on the grid behind the wheel of an F1 car, and I cannot wait to get back racing.”

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Kubica has performed as Williams’ test driver this year and will drive for the team in first practice tomorrow. Deputy team principal Claire Williams said he has “remarkable determination” and “truly embodies the Williams fighting spirit.”

“Having the consistency of Robert stepping up into this new role will be an important step for us as we look to fight our way back towards the front of the field. I am also excited to have a mixture of youth and experience to lead us into 2019 and we look forward to seeing what they can achieve on track.”

Kubica and Russell will drive for Williams in next week’s test at Yas Marina, the team confirmed.

While Lance Stroll’s departure from the team had already been confirmed, the news comes as a blow to Sergey Sirotkin, who will lose his F1 seat at the end of his first season.

“I would also like to thank Lance and Sergey for their hard work in what has been a challenging season,” Williams added. “We wish them all the best for their future careers.”

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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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96 comments on “Williams confirm Kubica’s return to F1 in 2019”

  1. Spectacular news! A real shame that it comes at the expense of a very decent rookie and not at the expense of Stroll, but this is one of the sport’s greatest comeback stories. Amazing fortitude, resilience and desire. Kudos too to Williams, last year they chickened out after one bad test, this year they dared.

    1. What decent had Sirotkin done over whole season? He is last with single point scored after other team DSQ. He couldnt be significantly faster than Stroll.

    2. I was very excited about this some 12+ months ago; less so today.

      1. It’s suddenly a very underwhelming news.
        Came too late and for the wrong reasons.
        Williams prostituting their cars even for the right kind of drivers.

      2. @coldfly I totally get what you mean, but I’m trying to ignore that nagging feeling

        1. @coldfly @hahostolze

          Strange that. I have the same feeling. I think it’s because so much emotion went into last year’s pre-season hopes for Kubica. After everyone said no to him, I guess even we stopped believing.

          I am very happy for him. As he says, getting back on the grid has been one of the greatest achievements of his life. And if he can’t keep up with the rest, I think he’ll still be very very grateful that he had the opportunity to try and to see where his level was. No matter what happens next, Robert is going grow old a much happier man, and for that I am over the moon.

      3. +1, but better late than never!

      4. Yeah, but if he were in the car for 2018, he would have just been trundling around in last or 2nd last. At least for 2019 there’s a chance the car will not be as terrible.

        1. @pastaman, are you sitting down…

    1. Same! Most exciting driver line-up of 2019!

  2. Looking forward for the press conferences.

    Q: Robert, how did you manage that incredible lap?
    R: With a hand behind my back

    He has to say it, he has to single handed own these situations. Please Robert, please, give us gold.

    1. Too mean, but I LOLed @johnmilk; not sure Robert quite has that amount of self confident humour yet (Vettel would, I am sure).

      1. humour is the best remedy for all the situations, we just have to embrace it even if it is a bit dark

      2. @johnmilk – I echo @bosyber, naughty but funny! 🙂 If Kubica has this sort of humour, he’ll be the darling of press conferences.

        And yes, there are some who’ve faced tremendous adversity and joke about it, the ones who make us wonder just how they do it.

        1. “This” [ ;-) ]

  3. Back in 2011 I never thought this would happen. I’m so pleased it has.

    1. I thought it could happen until the extent of his injuries was know at his first small Italian Rally in 2003 after 18 months of silence. then I only believed it “might” happen when he was announced to test a 2012 Renault F1 car, then later that day when he said he can do the job, I believed it had to happen. Having a drink to celebrate right now!

      1. PS, besides the most obvious injury, he had 26 fractures to his right side of the body, and ~20 operations including having prosthetics put in his right elbow area.

  4. Next season was already shaping up to be interesting with the engine changes – driver movements and rookies coming in to F1.
    This is an extra (and personally totally unexpected) layer of interest.

    I wish him every success and I will laugh SO HARD if he gives the Force India’s a hard time whilst in Lances old team ;P


    This is just mindblowing, amaizing, spectacular. I never thought it’d happen, even less after so many years. I don’t care how fast he is right now, to jump back in a F1 car after what he’s gone through is unbelievable. Good luck Robert, I’ll be cheering for you HARD!

    1. Just a shame it comes at the expense of Sirotkin who I believe raced very, very well this year. He deserved another chance too.

      1. why? Stroll did a better job

        1. @johnmilk No he didn’t. Unless you only judge by the points, which you shouldn’t do in a car only capable of them a very small amount of time/season

          1. @montreal95

            Unless you only judge by the points, which you shouldn’t do in a car only capable of them a very small amount of time/season

            The fact that Stroll did better whenever the car was not absolutely trash and capable of scoring points doesn’t reflect too well on Sirotkin either. Ideally, if you are really better, you should be outperforming your teammate regardless of the car’s performance/driveability. Admittedly, Sirotkin retired in Baku but was outqualified handily and was unlikely to finish ahead of his teammate. It’s not like Sirotkin has blown Stroll away when the car has been awful either; on those occasions, it has been somewhat even, with Sirotkin having a slight edge in qualifying and Stroll very slightly ahead in the races. It’s hard to say which driver has been definitively better, but Stroll has been more opportunistic.

            A not too far-fetched comparison can be made to when Hulk and Perez were teammates, with the latter grabbing his opportunities better and the former not being able to pull through (for some reason or the other) when it really mattered. Although, the difference here is that Stroll and Sirotkin have been teammates for just one year, so this kind of conclusion isn’t as solid and doesn’t hold the same weight as in Hulk’s and Perez’s case.

          2. @neutronstar You would be correct were the Williams capable of scoring points in some representative number of races. But it wasn’t. So points are not a representation of their form vs one another. Fact is: Stroll was beaten in qualifying and was narrowly ahead in races they both finished. As a rookie performance in a rubbish car this was a good performance by Sirotkin. Stroll with his experience should have done better. By the way, your example of the Force India teammates is not relevant either. Not only the Hulk beat Perez decisively in qualifying but he has finished ahead more often and their final points tally vs each other is quite even. It’s only on podiums that Perez really beat the Hulk and it was 4 podiums in 3 years which again you cannot judge anything from as it’s a neglible percentage of races.

          3. @montreal95
            You have to question how much Stroll’s one year of experience is worth in this case. Worth more than Sirotkin’s rookie status, for sure, but last year he drove a car well capable of competing in the upper midfield, while this year he is driving a relative trashbox, or a ‘demon’ in Paddy Lowe’s words. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a relative newcomer to struggle with such a car and Stroll is no exception.

            I agree that Stroll needs to do a lot of work on his qualifying, but surprisingly enough, he has had more standout qualifying performances than Sirotkin despite being outqualified overall. Q2 performances in Australia, Austria, Hungary and Japan (gap to Sirotkin small here, though), and a Q3 performance in Monza. Anyway, as I mentioned before Stroll is leading Sirotkin where it matters the most i.e. race results. Six points to one and 9-6 in races both have finished. Ultimately, races results are more important than anything else. They certainly were in Perez’s case. I’m a Hulk fan and for me it is evident that he was faster than Perez in their three years together, but he also squandered crucial opportunities. Out of those four podiums you mentioned, Hulk had a genuine chance to score 3 (Bahrain 2014, Russia 2015 and Baku 2016) in his teammate’s stead, but made a crucial mistake or lost out to Perez’s opportunism.

            The end result? Renault approached Perez before Hulkenberg and the former featured comfortably in the team principals’ top 10 drivers of the year in both 2015 and 2016 while the latter didn’t. More podiums + more points overall made the difference between Perez and Hulk; no one in the paddock cared for their qualy head-to-head.

  6. Well done to him I suppose – but from what I’ve heard it’s now a case of him contributing about 10 million more Euros than Sirotkin, which based on Williams’ recent actions might give a clue as to why he’s been hired… we’ll see how he performs but he hasn’t got a known quantity in the other seat, so it will be hard to judge.

    Also it’s a real shame that Stroll will remain in F1 while Sirotkin doesn’t.

    1. If it helps, I think neither Stroll or Sirotkin warrant another “go”… so the fact that only one of them is soothes me a little!

      However Kubica got the seat, it’s a good news story; which is always welcome in Formula One. He might not be as good as Russell, Sirotkin, Stroll or as good as he used to be, but I think it’ll be fun finding out.

    2. Not true, Kubica is bringing 11million, while Sirotkin offered 15million. Also Orlen, the polish petroleum company giving the money will be sponsoring Williams and not Sirotkin. Williams are receiving some money from Stroll’s payout to the team for leaving his contract, so maybe that made it more viable to sign Kubica this time. The still lose Martini though..

      1. I Meant to write Orlen will be sponsoring Williams and not *Kubica

      2. I read 28 million… don’t suppose we’ll find out the truth.

    3. Also it’s a real shame that Stroll will remain in F1 while Sirotkin doesn’t.

      Not a fan of Stroll, nor a believer that there are any hidden super talents, but he has shown more in F1 (and arguably other series) than Sirotkin, Ericsson, and even Vandoorne.

      1. @coldfly he’s been fairly obviously outpaced by Sirotkin this season, despite being in his second year. Vandoorne, well he’s been up against one of the best drivers. People forget he was so dominant in GP2. Agree on Ericsson though.

        1. @tflb – I expected Vandoorne to be able to “walk on water”, given his strong and solid progress up until F1. In GP2/2015 he was barely ever off the podium, really consistent. I’m still shocked that it’s all gone so horribly wrong for him.

    4. @tflb He’s contributing 10mil $$ more than Sirotkin only because Sirotkin’s sponsor Boris Rothenberg got disillusioned with Williams after their dismal season and isn’t willing to pay the same amount as this year anymore if at all…

      1. @montreal95 well there you go then, he’s still contributing more.

        1. @tflb Yes but in 2018 Sirotkin contributed more. If they both contributed the same amount either for 2018 or 2019 then we could have judged something from it. As it is the information you brought sbout $$ is irrelevant to the discussion.

          1. montreal95 – why do you find it so necessary to bludgeon us with your point…! We get it, already…!
            The purpose of a discussion is too state your point, allow others to respond, and maybe then to reply with additional points… not change the subject, and NOT to keep up this bullying attitude whereby you have to have your views accepted by everyone, or else…! until you finally dismiss the other point of view as being “irrelevant to the discussion”.
            Grow up, please.

      2. he is not contributing more than Sirotking, prove that? all recent reports, including one yesterday in an Italian racing magazine say he is contributing less.

  7. I love Formula One. There’s always a new, great story around the corner. This is one of the very best.

    Robert Kubica is a man who was on the rise, cut down (quite literally) and worked his socks off to get back to where he was. It may have taken 8 years, but it just goes to show that if you want something enough, there’s always a chance. Well done him, well done Williams.

    I have no idea if he’ll be as competitive as he wants to be, as Williams want him to be or as I want him to be; but I’ll be so excited to see him on the grid next year. Let’s hope the car is reasonable to give him half a chance. The battle with Russell will be exciting to watch.

    1. Well said @ben-n, let’s hope for a car that’s at least good enough to allow him (and Russell) to show their worth.

    2. @ben-n

      Well said man. Honestly, my interest in F1 was beginning to wane especially considering Alonso wasn’t going to be on the grid next year. I thought the sport was losing exciting characters and becoming a moan fest for viewers, pundits, drivers, teams, etc.

      But then.. Robert Kubica pulls off the impossible with an F1 return. After his accident, I was hoping for him to just survive and get back to a normal life. Once the severity of his injuries were revealed, I was fairly certain that he wasn’t going to make it back to the sport.

      The fact that he’s back, is a heroic achievement in itself… and I’m glad it’s a driver I’ve always liked and supported.

      Look forward to 2019 now.

    3. Well said! It’s an amazing journey that Kubica has been on. Fingers crossed he can live up to all of our hopes!

      1. Is KUB able to cross his fingers…? Oh – My – God…! I can’t believe I just said that…
        I’m just so glad he’s back…

  8. This really is incredible news!

    When I first saw pictures of the car he crashed in Andorra back in 2011 I wasn’t even sure if Robert would survive, crash never mind race in F1 again. Just getting to this point has been a remarkable achievement and he has to be applauded. The man is a hero.

    1. I totally agree, it’s amazing he’s lived to tell the tale let alone return to top level motorsport!

  9. Super excited! Really really happy for Robert. A bit disappointing for Esteban of course, but he’s honestly better off not getting into that car and just cruise around at the back. He will learn more being close to the top teams behind the scenes.

    This will make for an interesting/difficult comparison. A rated but untested rookie vs a highly talented veteran with unknown current abilities. Itll be interesting to see play out, but probably extremely difficult to draw comparisons.

    This is definitely my new co-favorite pairing to watch alongside Seb/Charles. I’m a Ferrari fan at heart, but I’m literally smiling so huge about this news. Congrats Robert, absolutely amazing testament to your character.

    1. +101

  10. Fab news.

    Now there can be no what ifs. He can show what he can do is paired against an up and comer, so will be able to compare his performance against a decent driver.

    I expect Robert to outperform George next year. His insight and feedback can only be a good thing for Williams. If they can sort the crappy aero issues for next year then they could be in a good scrap with Force India and Renault.

  11. This is going to be one crazy Hungarian Grand Prix next year!

    1. I know, the whole of Poland will converge to the track and screem Ku-Bi-Ca, like soccer crowds. People in Polish forums are already planning on going in groups and looking to buy tickets as early as possible.

      1. God I hope they do. Those chants give (gave) me the chills

      2. What colour will the Poles use to counteract the ‘Sea of Orange’…?

  12. His translation to F1 Williams driver has no doubt been helped by the buyout of the Stroll contract and the Polish money reportedly backing him at the start of this year when being at the bottom of the constructors table leaves Williams rather short of cash.

    Together with the evidence of the testing it probably made the decision very easy indeed to employ his undoubted talent.

  13. A waste of a drive.

    1. +100 – Very much agreed but hey…it’s Williams car. Let them do what they want with it.

  14. Remember his incredible almost pole lap Monaco 2010…. sorry to say it but he will never be near that again, lucky her will be in a weak car with a weak teammate.

    1. be positive! You never know what the future brings, ie… Kubica is back in F1! Williams could well be competing in midfield next year again, and Kubica could be that extra thing missing that will get them some surprise results.

    2. Russell a weak teammate? hahhaha

  15. Oh, a mandatory F1 seat for disabled persons? At least Robert got that job not because of finances. Try to squeak about pay drivers! Hope Williams will make even worse car to dive into the pits of hell next season.

    1. A disabled person doing great things with his life instead of spewing hate on the internet like a like you!

    2. Why the hate? Any allegiance/loyalty to Sirotkin?

      If yes, then maybe criticism on their strengths and weaknesses might be warranted (and discussion encouraged), but not a comment like this.

      1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        22nd November 2018, 12:46

        @phylyp well said.

      2. ‘This’… [I’m getting the hang of this… :-) ]

  16. Regardless of how this goes, I just can’t wait for the movie of all this story to come out in 10 or 20 or 30 years time. This is really powerful, no matter the results they will achieve

  17. Would be nice if someone from Williams would answer why he(Kubica) was NOT good enough (based on talent alone) for a seat in 2018… given that they stated the choice of Shirokin (for 2018) was ‘solely’ made on talent (not sponsorship)…but hey, I am just a cynic at heart I guess.

    1. The only thing better than cynicism is irony… ;-)

  18. Kubica and Russell will drive for Williams in next week’s test at Yas Marina, the team confirmed.

    Cant wait !!

  19. To go from Stroll & Sirotkin to Kubica & Russell is one hell of an upgrade. Hats off to Williams. I think by virtue of just having these 2 on-board, everyone at Grove will have an extra spring in their step and they’ll find that intangible 10% from knowing they’ve got a chance to move up the grid with these drivers.

  20. I hope Russell beats Norris next year too!

  21. Goosebumps! Truly inspirational comeback…

  22. Wow! That’s a really pleasing one. Hope it’s a multi year deal. Next year’s squad of drivers are the most promising and competitive guys in recent years. Even the back marker teams have seasoned drivers. Let’s hope TR lands a good driver. Next season is surely going to be awesome.

  23. It’s going to be interesting to say the least. Despite the army of doubters that always seemed to question his ability, I think that before his accident he was developing into certainly one of the better drivers on the grid. I have no clue what kind of pace he can show now, but even if this is a one-year one-off it stands as one of the more improbable comebacks in sport, alongside Alex Zanardi (then again I guess the same can be said for all para-athletes). Just hoping that car is a tad better than this year and that he can perform well enough to flip the proverbial bird at all the haters. Either way it’s a testament to single-minded passion for a sport.

  24. This is a dream story and awesome news. I see a lot of hate for some reason tho. What’s the worst that happens he not live up to his old self? You never know if you never try. Some people are willing to fail to try and reach their dreams. These are the people really living life and not afraid to fail. He knows it’s a risk and he is willing to do it so who are we to say what he should or shouldn’t. If there is proof he can’t williams never would have gave him the ride

    1. I agree but stroll & Sirotkin were deemed “good enough” by Williams too. The abuse and stick they got for hiring those 2 was unreal…this is very much a decision of the same standard. Good on KUB. It’s Williams that are at fault here not him.

  25. This is a dream story and awesome news. I see a lot of hate for some reason tho. What’s the worst that happens he not live up to his old self? You never know if you never try. Some people are willing to fail to try and reach their dreams. These are the people really living life and not afraid to fail. He knows it’s a risk and he is willing to do it so who are we to say what he should or shouldn’t. If there is proof he can’t williams never would have gave him the ride. I really hope it all works out bc it’s a dream story and it also draws in a whole new country of fans

  26. I’m happy for Kubica, and happier still it was delayed a year.

    In 2018, we found out what a disaster of a car the Williams was. Imagine the giddy excitement if Kubica had been confirmed a year ago, only for those hopes to be dashed by that car (and the inevitable questions as to whether he still has his mojo, or was it the car).

    So yeah, on to 2019, without any nutty expectations of him driving the Williams at the pointy end of the midfield. We can now be glad just to see him racing.

    1. Also, when Liberty sees the fan excitement, how long until they announce a Polish GP for 2020 (even before opening any discussions)?

  27. Excellent. This is great, for every sporting fan out there. Even if he does poorly he did well enough. It is what Williams needs right now, a rookie that is excellent and a veteran who is popular.

  28. Very good news. One of the best in recent years. Kubica deserves the full support of Formula 1 fans, no matter what results he gets, as he will run in the worst car on the grid.

  29. “Having the consistency of Robert stepping up into this new role will be an important step for us as we look to fight our way back towards the front of the field.”
    Read “We need Robert to drive the development of the car (as the rookies were useless)”

    Makes sense to me as Robert’s got a reputation for being an excellent team leader with great technical feedback and they’ve gone for him over othere as he’s already been with them a year and will provide consistency over probably the next two years, which Ocon couldn’t commit to. Let’s just hope that the work they’ve done over the past 9 months on the new car leads them to being more competitive again.

  30. Kubica is an exciting racer, who was rumored that Ferrari wanted to sign him before his accident. I followed him into Rallying and he was doing a reasonable job driving a bit like Colin Macrae ‘If in doubt flat out’ …Wild… lol
    Now he is back in F1, am super stoked we get to see his instinctive racing prowess again behind the wheel of an F1 car. Hope the Williams has reasonable pace. There are not many F1 drivers that add interest within other forms of motorsport.

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      22nd November 2018, 13:17

      Ah I do miss McRae, he only had two settings, flat out, and upside down in woodland.
      Selecting first whilst mid-roll at the X Games was my favourite moment.

  31. Its great to see him back, its a heartwarming comeback story.

  32. I’m happy for Robert that he’s going to get his F1 comeback & I really do hope that his story has a somewhat happy ending in terms of him been competitive…. But I really do feel like people need to check there expectations a bit because I think too many of the fans & those inside F1 that have been screaming for his return the loudest have done so based on not just the fact it’s a feel good story but also because there looking at where he was in 2010 rather than where he is now.

    I just think some are hyping this up too much (Like they did with Schumacher in 2010). It’s a good news story & that may end up been all it is & I just think people need to be prepared for that rather than talking about it like he’s going to come back & be where he was in 2010 because chances are that he won’t be.

    1. Like everyone I am delighted at the news – but like you I have reservations.
      I didn’t think he would get a drive because no matter how well he could do a simulated race distance that is not the same as going a full season.
      I will be delighted if I am wrong – but – I am expecting his old injures to start causing problems with stamina and reaction times.

      Whatever – game on ;)

    2. But I really do feel like people need to check there expectations a bit because I think too many of the fans & those inside F1 that have been screaming for his return the loudest have done so based on not just the fact it’s a feel good story but also because there looking at where he was in 2010 rather than where he is now.

      @stefmeister – agreed.

      I touched on it in my comment above, it is probably a good thing that his race seat was delayed a year, because now everyone has seen what a poor car the 2018 Williams was. So that should help temper fans’ expectations.

  33. Perfect for Williams. They will now enter the list of teams that has “improved the most” at ever track.

  34. I’m glad for him, but I don’t expect him to do very well. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re talking about a replacement halfway through the season. Hopefully I’m wrong, but F1 seems just too elite to be competing with one hand after an 8-year hiatus.

    1. He already showed that he can drive a car over a whole race distance and faster than Stroll last year in Abu Dhabi.
      He barely got beaten by Sirotkin who got the seat (because he had more money) but failed to impress this year. And according to rumours he was faster than both in the simulator. His technical feedback is also better and that is what Williams needs most at the moment to get higher up at the grid.

      The only serious other option was Ocon, but only wanted a one year contract which Williams didn’t want and he has less money to bring.
      So imho he is the best choice.

  35. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
    22nd November 2018, 22:54

    Super stoked to see Kubica back. He was one of my favourite drivers back in 2008 and 2010, especially when I moved to Poland in 2010. However, I do have tempered expectations. If any of you know F1metrics, it’s a small site that uses extremely advanced mathematical models to try to figure out drivers’ performance, and simply due to the amount of time he’s been out of F1, his model predicted that Kubica, if he had lost none of his speed, would be about as fast next year as Stroll has been this year, with some scope for improvement still left.

  36. Best news of the year!!
    Too bad he will not be driving for Merc or Ferrari instead of Williams, would have done a great line-up with Bottas or Leclerc. Or with Alonso for that matter.

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