Kubica confirmed as Alfa Romeo reserve driver and Orlen as title sponsor

2020 F1 season

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Robert Kubica has joined Alfa Romeo as a reserve driver for the 2020 F1 season in a deal with sponsor Orlen, as first revealed by RaceFans last month.

The Polish petrochemicals firm will become a “co-title sponsor” of the Sauber-run team, which is to compete as Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen this year. Kubica is returning to the team he previously drove for between 2006 and 2009, when it was branded BMW Sauber.

Kubica, who raced for Williams in 2019, said he is “really happy” with his change for 2020. “This team holds a special place in my heart and I am pleased to see some faces still here from my years in Hinwil.

“Time and circumstances are obviously different, but I am convinced that I will find the same determination and hunger to succeed. I am looking forward to helping Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen make the next step forward.”

Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur said they “cannot wait to start working” with Kubica again.

“He is a driver that needs no introduction: one of the most brilliant in his generation and one who displayed the true meaning of human determination in his fight to return to racing after his rallying accident. His feedback will be invaluable as we continue to push our team towards the front of the grid.”

Orlen arrived in Formula 1 with Williams last year. CEO and President of the board Daniel Obajtek said the sponsorship programme “exceeded our expectations” in raising awareness of their brand.

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Robert Kubica, BMW, DTM, 2019
Kubica is seeking a DTM race drive
“The sheer value of our logo after 16 races exceeded 110 million zł [£19.3m]. We also significantly increased the profits of the retail network. Building global brand recognition has also allowed us to start the co-branding process, under which all European stations of our network will ultimately operate under one brand.”

RaceFans understands this will be the ‘Star’ brand which was launched in Germany last November.

“Today we are taking another important step on this path by associating ourselves with a team that has enormous tradition and history,” Obajtek added. “Robert Kubica, one of the fastest drivers in the world, remains our ambassador.”

Alfa Romeo is yet to confirm whether Kubica will participate in any F1 practice sessions for them. He is known to have approached other teams, including Haas and Racing Point, about such an arrangement. Kubica is also pursuing a race drive in the DTM after testing BMW’s M4 at Jerez last month.

View the current list of 2020 F1 drivers and teams

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48 comments on “Kubica confirmed as Alfa Romeo reserve driver and Orlen as title sponsor”

  1. So Willies (sorry, got the Plato book for Xmas! ) will have even less cash than last year now they’ve switched to Sauber?

    1. Their driver signing says otherwise @falken – Lafiti is certain to bring in at least as much to fill that hole

  2. This is great stuff on the first day of new decade and hope this will be major decision for Alfa, as a team, to get back on top.
    Congratulations Robert, congratulations Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen team

  3. From pay-driver to pay-reserve-driver.

    1. still better than sirotkin or his previous team mate, even cant remember his name xd Kubica has gained 23 positions afrer all first laps, rusell only 3 or 4 xDDD come on mate

      1. Better than Sirotkin really? I didntnitice Sirotkin loosing around a minute to his team mate for most of the season.

        1. Many fans doubt Poland’s ability after the Williams season because he lost the team duel against George Russell 0:21. Kubica: «I remained loyal to the team all year round. But the car was a misconstruction. There was nothing to be done in the simulator either. And if you don’t trust the car, you risk less. As simple as that.”


    2. You mean sponsored driver, just like alonso and hamilton

    3. Alonso and Hamilton has sponsors after proving they were good.
      This Kubica 2.0 hasn’t proven anything, he did a full season being beaten by a rookie.
      If it wasn’t for the sponsors he wouldn’t be in F1 at all.

      1. Kubica beat Russell on the first lap in all but two races, and got the only point for Williams in 2019, because that great rookie made a rookie mistake. And whenever he was about to beat Russell, the team’s strategy made sure he wouldn’t, including pulling him out of the race in a perfectly good car. Come on, you cannot be THAT biased?????

      2. Kubica did in his first stint and that’s enough.

        1. @esploratore, why should the glories of a decade ago justify his position now?

        2. @esploratore No, that’s not enough. Barrichello was a decent driver 10 years ago, doesn’t mean he deserves an F1 seat now.

        3. So, next season let’s hire Jackie Stewart. He will be awful: “but what he did in his first stint was enough”

  4. A great move for Alfa and a decent one for Kubica-Orlen.
    Orlen and Kubica definitely want to stay involved in a team with a possibility of 2021 seat (in their eyes) and Alfa will get some significantly needed cash injection, especially if the rumors of the 2020 cockpit failing the FIA safety tests are any true.
    I can’t see Alfa, with all the young Ferrari drivers behind and Kubica’s not ideal 219, being any interested in Kubica for 2021

  5. Oh noooo.
    This will end up with Robert complaining his reserve car was different to other 2 race cars.

    1. Nah, alfa romeo can make more than 3 chassis a year, unlike Williams.

    2. Everybody except 2 pro-british blogs and Williams knew the cars were NOT the same, simply because Williams was incapable of producing anything in duplicate.

  6. Great for giving Sauber a credit for actually running the team, right…

  7. An unusual for Alfa when they discover their new reserve driver is convinced he’s the most important member of the team.

    1. That could be true when Kimi retires after 2020

      1. If this is such a great decision, why are all of last year’s test drivers practically anonymous? They seldom, if ever get a mention during the racing season. You probably couldn’t tell us who Kubica has replaced at Alfa, and neither could 95% of other posters here.

  8. Great move by Sauber. Good to see that – similarly as the BMW guys in DTM, and unlike some people commenting here – they didn’t get confused concerning Kubica’s potential after his season in the joke-team from Grove.

    And to clarify about Orlen and Star brand. Star is widely present in Germany form many years, what has started recently is the rebranding process, now they are promoted as Star – Orlen Group.
    So for sure Alfa Romeos will carry Orlen logos – media confirm front and rear wings, sidepods, halo and mirrors as the locations.

    1. Saying Star is widely present in Germany is an overstatement. The logo is somehow familiar (wouldn’t have linked it to a fossil fuel company though) but I can’t name you even one Star service station in my area. My guess is they’re somewhat more common in the parts of the former German Democratic Republic / East Germany.

      1. I will suggest to check the google map typing : Star Tankstelle !

      2. As of today Orlen claims to have about 580 petrol stations in Germany, for now most of them indeed in the northern and eastern part of the country.

      3. 580 Star gas stations in Germany is a small number? That is the current number. You must be driving only around your block.

        1. 580 ain’t much compared to 2291 Aral service stations for example.

        2. Mike, as NasiBoring rightly notes, when most of the major operators have between 1,000 to 2,000 petrol stations each – even one of the bigger independent chains (bft, or Bundesverband freier Tankstellen) has around 1,000 stations – 580 stores, whilst not insignificant, makes it one of the smaller chains in Germany.

  9. Money is King

  10. Mark my words Kubica will be driving in f1 in 2021. I anticipated this deal to be with Haas, but I think kubica and Orlen had doubts haas will be in f1 in 2021, as it looks likely they might leave this unfair sport. I seriously doubt kubica or Orlen would pen this deal without wanting a chance for a 2021 race seat. Orlen recently reported great earnings from sponsoring kubica. Ferrari will be eying a 2021 race seat for mick shuchmacher ofcourse at alfa, But his 2019 f2 season suggests he was way too hyped up.

    1. Sorry to say this to you, kpcart, but that is wishful thinking on your part. I love Robert. He was one of the very best before his accident and had a huge amount of potential. But with that injury and the many years he was out of F1 and his performance at Williams in 2019, there is very very little chance he will ever have an F1 race seat again.

    2. Absolutely agree. Kimi will retire after 2020 for sure, and Sauber knows what Kubica can do, without having pro-British bias of Williams and British blogs…

    3. kpcart, no offence, but your predictions in recent years seem to have been pretty far off – after all, your prediction that Ferrari was going to dominate the 2019 season didn’t exactly go to plan, did it?

  11. Maybe they can call themselves the ARRO team now as a half-throwback to the old Arrows team. Or get some DC Comics sponsorship, so our übercool, icecream loving Fin can play Mr Freeze.

  12. With such an experienced driver as Raikkonen, they really don’t need Kubica to tell the team what the race drivers want from the car. Sure, a driver such as Robert will be handy to have in the simulator, working with the engineering team. But surely there is little chance of him ever competing in F1 again. A financial deal is what it is.

  13. Look forward to him driving again in 2021! His F1 story is not yet over…

  14. I am more worried about the future of Alfa Romeo’s presence in F1, given the sales report of the car business in last few years. Also, FCA & PSA merger may not be good news for it.

    The team will definitely remain, under a different brand and/or owner. But Alfa Romeo name won’t.

    1. Always found it puzzling the way car manufacturers want to earn good money AND produce less than excellent cars. The whole British car industry tried that and failed.

      Why don’t Alfa try reviving the Montreal? At least it was good looking.

  15. So is this the deal that was supposed happen in 2012 with Ferrari?

    But on a serious note good for Alfa and what a place Giovinazzi has to learn even more from Raikkonen and Kubica.

  16. i don’t see why people are so eager to see Robert in F1 again given how bad he was last year. Yeah fine you can say the Williams car was bad but that doesn’t change the fact that in every regard he was destroyed by a rookie team mate and at no point through 2019 ever showed anything to suggest he is anywhere near been as good as he once was.

    His fans & well wishers need to stop acting like this is the Robert Kubica of 2010 because it isn’t & he never will be again. If anything him been in a car better than the Williams will just expose his lack of pace more, Especially with how competitive the mid-field tends to be.

    The worst driver on the 2019 grid doesn’t deserve another shot because it’s clear his best days ended with his unfortunate rally crash & coming back to F1 just to continue to be below mediocre does nothing for anybody!

  17. If KUB could talk in a normal human way he might have found true happiness with the Sky commentating team, instead he will have to play solo in a stimulator in Hinwil.

  18. How many languages do you speak? And yeah, I am sure that after recovering from a life-threatening accident being a Sky commentator is his dream.

  19. it seems there’s still quite a lot of disappointment and hurt feelings out there… – at least assuming by amount of given attention and effort to comment on some reserve driver that is so slow, uncompetitive, handicapped (or worse), backed-up by some sponsor (unlike the others that bring in only pure talent to racing) and was so nungraceful to the team having the biggest piece of junk in this century at disposal, when he should only smile and say everything’s just wonderful…
    That’s a bit puzzling.

  20. Sauber is on its last leg again. Seems that Alfa sponsorship was a Marchionne thing.

  21. “Star” brand was launched in germany several years ago,
    and now Orlen is finishing rebranding “Star” to “Orlen”

  22. So, Alfa’s new sponsor was involved in the biggest corruption scandal in modern Polish history, what could go wrong?

    1. @kerrymaxwell, senior executives at Orlen have been targeted for a number of investigations in recent years.

      Asides from Orlengate in 2004, their head of the petrochemical division, Marek Serafin, was investigated in 2011 over allegations of corruption, and in 2019 a former CEO, plus five senior managers, were arrested on charges of embezzlement and corruption.

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