Robert Kubica can claim the credit for scoring Williams’ only point of their miserable 2019 effort.
The FW42 was an unworthy car for both the drivers tasked with campaigning it. Typically it was around a second per lap off the next-slowest car and, to make matters worse, the team often had to operate with a strictly limited supply of spare parts.
That leaves us with little useful data to measure Kubica by other than comparisons with his team mate. George Russell may be very highly-rated by Mercedes, for whom he is a junior driver, but he was still a rookie, and Kubica’s average lap time deficit to him of over six-tenths of a second was by far the worst between any pair of team mates. Russell decisively saw off Kubica in qualifying, beating him 19 times, while the other two occasions were accounted for by an engine failure (Spa) and crash (Suzuka) for Kubica.
Though Kubica often managed to get ahead of Russell at the start of races, he seldom stayed there. But Germany was the shining exception. On a damp track Russell slithered off late in the race, handing the initiative to Kubica, and 12th on the road became 10th in the classification after the Alfa Romeo drivers were penalised. Kubica’s experience paid off on the only day of the season when Williams stood to benefit from it.
|Beat team mate in qualifying
|Beat team mate in race
|Laps spent ahead of team mate
The rest of the season was a forgettable affair. The only other time Kubica beat his team mate was in France, where the two touched while fighting for position, leading to Russell needing a replacement front wing. On other occasions Russell prevailed and occasionally destroyed his team mate, such as at the Red Bull Ring where he finished almost a full lap ahead.
Problems outside Kubica’s control compromised his season further. That power unit failure at Spa meant he had to revert to an old-specification engine at one of the calendar’s most power-sensitive venues.
In Russia – a weekend which was going terribly for him to begin with – the team retired his car to save parts. Japan made this seem a smart call, as Kubica crashed heavily in qualifying, but was able to take part in the race.
Mexico was a considerably better weekend for Kubica. Though he lost time to Russell in the quick corners in the middle of the lap in qualifying (the first sectors at Suzuka and Circuit of the Americas were much the same), come the race he was in a feisty mood, and elbowed his way past Russell with a brilliantly opportunistic move at turn six. Unfortunately a tyre problem dropped him back later in the race.
On his comeback to Formula 1, Kubica clearly demonstrated he is still capable of driving at the top level. He never flagged once over the 21-race season. But, whether because of the damage to his arm or his prolonged absence from the cockpit, he showed very little of the same turn of speed he had at the beginning of his F1 career.
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Over to you
What’s your verdict on Robert Kubica’s 2019 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.
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2019 F1 season review
- ‘I should have done a better job. There’s things that I know I can do better’
- ‘I am definitely not a rookie anymore – but I’m still getting better’
- ‘I didn’t believe in myself much. But after Australia and Bahrain and I gained a lot of confidence’
- ‘It was my best season for sure so far in terms of pure results and speed’
- ‘There’s been plenty of good performances – but there’s also other years I’ve performed at my best’