Kubica saw “more Polish flags than Italian” at Monza

2021 F1 season

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Robert Kubica was surprised by the amount of Polish support which appeared for him in his second appearance for Alfa Romeo last weekend.

The one-time grand prix winner returned as a substitute for Kimi Raikkonen again in the Italian Grand Prix. Kubica, who came close to signing for Ferrari earlier in his career, said he had been hoping for a chance to return to the venue.

“I always wanted to do [first practice] in Monza just because I always feel quite special emotions here,” he said. “It’s one of the tracks where I enter, whatever I’m coming to the paddock, if it’s ELMS or even some testing, it gives me a special feeling.

“In the end, 10 years ago, I was very close to racing for an Italian brand, which was probably one of my dreams. I raced for an Italian brand, a different one, but it was still a nice privilege.

“For sure we didn’t achieve what we were hoping for as a team as a final result. But we gave everything and I hope fans enjoy it and appreciate it. I would like also to thank the Polish fans because they was, extremely, a lot of flags. Surprisingly, more Polish flags than Italians here.”

The crowd was restricted to a maximum of just 25,000 spectators for last weekend’s race due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Kubica qualified 17th and finished three places higher after letting team mate Antonio Giovinazzi by with five laps to go. He spent the opening part of the race chasing former Williams team mate George Russell.

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“It was a difficult race with sliding a lot, especially on the hard compound,” said Kubica. “Difficult to follow the other cars.

Kubica made his 99th F1 start at Monza
“I think generally we were running a lower level of downforce or very low level downforce compared to the others. We were very strong on the straight line. This helps us to protect [the tyres] but to follow the others, at least I struggled a lot in that. The tyres were sliding lot, overheating, so it wasn’t easy.

“The first stint with hard tyres actually pace-wise was looking not good but in the end it was tending to our way with George having quite a lot of difficulties with the tyres.”

Following the Safety Car period Kubica lost a position to Sebastian Vettel while following Nicholas Latifi.

“On the restart I was very close to Ocon but I lost so much grip, so much downforce, and actually this complicated my life a bit,” he said. “I defended pretty well with Seb for a few laps and trying to also stay attached to Latifi, which I was managing.

“But when Seb overtook me, I couldn’t follow him. And then we swapped positions with Antonio so we finished the race like this.”

Raikkonen is due to return to the car at the next round in Russia.

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34 comments on “Kubica saw “more Polish flags than Italian” at Monza”

  1. I am not surprised by this, in 2019 I went to my first (and so far only Grand Prix) at Hungary.

    The loudest and most obvious fans were Kubica fans. Despite him languishing in the Williams, he was given the superstar treatment. When I went to walk down the pit straight, I couldn’t get down because of the massive crowd outside the Williams pit section. Someone even managed to throw their child over the barrier and Kubica signed an autograph for him and took a picture with the boy. The kid returned and his parents were almost in tears – it was like he’d touched Jesus or something!

    Like many, I suspect that had Kubica not had his rally accident, he would have been an absolute force in F1 and I can only imagine how incredible his crowds of fans would have been. He is well loved.

    1. Indeed, Robert is so well-loved that several teams are pretending he’s not driving their car one-handed, and that that is probably not the best idea for an F1 driver.

      Well, his state-funded sponsor package may also help.

    2. @geekzilla9000 That makes sense. It was similar when I was there in Hungary 2018 (he wasn’t even in the race and it was still only suspected he’d get a F1 race seat in 2019…). Part of the reason is that Hungary’s the easiest race for Poles to get to, but another is that Robert’s fans are extremely vocal, loyal and willing to travel. They regarded their Verstappen-supporting counterparts with a mixture of appreciation (of people who were also willing to be loud and spread the message far about how great their driver is) and.. …I’m not quite sure what the word for the emotion is (since they knew that Robert fans and Max fans most often choose their respective drivers for quite different reasons).

  2. Is he sure it’s not Monaco flags?

    1. @ruliemaulana yeah, it’s unbelievable, they’re nearly identical. Reverse white and red for Monaco.

      This feels like Sheldon Cooper Fun with Flags…

      1. @freelittlebirds and here I am replying from Indonesia

    2. @ruliemaulana While I know some Leclerc fans who have bought Polish flags and reversed them due to difficulties in getting actual Monegasque flags where they live, they (and Robert) would know which way round represents which country. I can quite believe Robert when he says he saw a lot of Polish flags. (Parallel point: is it possible some people took Monegasque flags instead of Italian this year – either as a statement of support for the driver, or to avoid implying they supported the Italian track’s 30-50% price hike on tickets?)

      It also wouldn’t surprise me if there was at least one person present who supported both Kubica and Leclerc, and had a dilemma on their hands…

  3. So Gio’s unseen pass on him for P13 towards the end was a tactical swap rather than a racing overtake.

    1. No one knows or understands why Alda told Kubica to let Giovinazzi past for position.

      1. No one knows because team orders only get recognition at the front od the field.
        Giovinazzi was way way faster, why shouldn’t he pass? Team orders are part of the game.

  4. Love to see him take that second Alfa seat next year.

      1. Maybe because a lot of people would like to see him drive a season in something other than a possibly worst ever (that year) Williams? He had a pre-contract signed with Ferrari for 2012 so I guess he was pretty good. Unfortunately much has changed, but there is no way he would be driving an F1 car with only one hand. He lost a win in 24 Le Mans this year on the last lap – that counts for something. Even his pace these 2 races wasn’t that bad compared to whatever Kimi would do.

        1. there is no way he would be driving an F1 car with only one hand

          He is.

          1. He’s actually not. He grips the wheel lightly with his right hand and uses his palm to help turn the wheel.

          2. @proesterchen It’s 70-30 driving – in other words, there’s bias towards the good hand but the injured hand is doing some of the work in keeping the car aligned.

        2. He had a terrible season in 2020.
          He also a had a terrible season in 2019, being smashed by a rookie.

          1. He didn’t race in 2020. And if being smashed in 2019 in a car that finished 19th and 20th each race while finishing with 1 point while your godly superstar teammate finishes with 0 I think you take that each time.

          2. He did have a terrible season in 2019 driving a completely non competetive car missing on upgrades as George was getting them (i.e Japan where he got to try out the new front wing which he liked just to take it off him before qualifications). Waited half a year for some small tweaks in his steering wheel buttons. After such a long break from F1, yes it was terrible. And you say 2020 was terrible for him because he wasn’t racing then?

  5. He is simply seeing things. Similar observances happened at Williams earlier when Russell was regularly outperforming him and he just ‘could not understand why’

    1. What observations are you referring to there?
      Anyway, Russell turned out to be an absolute beast that got him signed by Mercedes so I don’t think there’s a big blemish on Kubica’s name to have been out-paced by Russell in 2019.

  6. Robert Kubica – down one arm, and probably in need of a new set of glasses, too.

    1. You are kind of a jerk.

    2. Half a useful arm yet quicker in FP3 than a guy who’s been in the car for a few years…

      1. Always this. Why always this? Why does it need to be explained each and every time free practice sessions count for nothing? Posting the ultimate fastest lap is not the goal in free practice. They are meaningless.

        1. Absolutely, you just need to see the occasional 1 sec gap between hamilton and bottas in fp1\2\3, with either of the 2 in front, when you know there’s only 1-2 tenths in quali.

    3. @proesterchen He is certainly a better driver than most, and undoubtedly a nicer person than you.

  7. I wonder if that’s like when you buy a new car and all of a sudden you see it everywhere.

  8. Well, when the attendance is only 16,000 people what do you expect?

    1. There is some anecdontal evidence that it was mostly the local Italians who were put off by the price hike, and I did see a more visible presence from both the Kubica and Verstappen contingents than expected. (I even saw some more Aston Martin fans than usual, though that might be because the colour scheme shows up better when surrounded by empty seats than by people).

  9. 99% of Italian fans only come to see Ferrari win. Plus they were complaining about the raised admission fees. So they most likely sat this one out yes.

    1. Yes, it was quite predictable ferrari wouldn’t get a good result here, it’s not really anything to write home about being the 4th fastest car and not being in contention for a podium even if the title contenders crash.

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