This weekend Robert Kubica returns to the the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, scene of his one and only Grand Prix win, for the first time since his return to Formula 1 after an absence of eight years.

That win in the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix propelled him in to the upper echelons of the Formula 1 hierarchy, and got us all thinking, for a while at least, that Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso et-al would have another obstacle to overcome on their respective paths to World Championship glory.

None of us could have predicted that over a decade later, thanks in part to the rally crash in 2011 that almost killed him, Kubica’s wins tally would still sit at one with little prospect to adding to that number any time soon.

Having overcome what stood out pre-season as THE test of Kubica’s physical capabilities in the Monaco Grand Prix, where he performed admirably prior to being nerfed by Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, he arrives in Canada shorn of some of the doubts that surrounded him in the early part of the season but with perhaps a more difficult job ahead of him.

For the Canadian Grand Prix is not only a race where Kubica has won in the past, it’s a circuit of which his young team-mate George Russell (comfortably ahead of Kubica in every timed session of 2019 thus far) has no experience of racing.

In trying to explain the deficit to Russell, Kubica has insisted that there are anomalies in the setup of his car that don’t seem to be present on his team-mate’s car and which the Williams Team are struggling to explain or remedy.

Well, this weekend, for the first time, Williams F1 reserve driver Canadian Nicholas Latifi drives Kubica’s car in Friday practice for his home Grand Prix.

Latifi, currently leading the F2 championship and with his eyes on F1, will see this as his opportunity to impress on his first practice outing for Williams, and as such is unlikely to show deference to his senior stablemate.

So this weekend Kubica has two drivers he must beat if he has designs on Formula 1 beyond 2019 (the rest of the field are completely out of sight at the minute).

With Latifi in the exact same car as Kubica he could prove to be the more relevant gauge of what performance the 34 year old currently possesses.

If the Canadian’s laptimes prove to be closer to Russell than Kubica, it could signal the beginning of the end of Kubica’s comeback.


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