In the midst of a difficult season for Poland’s only Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica, his sponsors Orlen, who fronted the cash to get him a drive at Williams, are rightly keeping their options open for the 2020 F1 season.
The sensationalist angle on this story, and the one that most media outlets hungry for clicks are approaching it from, is to focus on Kubica’s sponsor considering taking their money (and their driver) and finding him a drive elsewhere.
However, if you read the quotes, it’s much more a case of Kubica and Orlen sensibly refusing to commit to anything for 2020 when there’s lots of hard work to be done this year.
“This is a job for Robert and Orlen, everything is on the table.” Orlen President Daniel Obajtek told Sport.pl
“A lot here depends on the direction Robert will take, after all, he has a good sense of the sport.”
“We are considering all possibilities.”
While this year’s Williams is below the standard that anyone could have expected when contracts were being signed towards the end of 2018, it has to be said that Kubica’s form has also been questionable, having trailed his rookie team-mate George Russell in every qualifying session and race this season, and so it’s the opinion of this writer (I use the term ‘writer’ loosely!) that Kubica has yet to prove that he is deserving of a drive in a better car.
Additionally, it’s difficult to see where else Kubica might fit, should he and Orlen decide to look elsewhere. In fact, on current form, I can’t see him ousting any of the 18 non-Williams drivers in F1, and the reputed £20m Orlen injected into Williams isn’t enough to financially steamroll him into a seat.
It must also be said that if Kubica isn’t set to continue with Williams F1 beyond 2019 it’s actually more likely to be the decision of the team and not the driver.
Williams will know of any anomalies (if any) that exist between Kubica & Russell’s cars, and how the Pole is actually performing relative to his team mate.
With a queue of wannabe F1 drivers with deep-pocketed backers, this gauge of performance could be key.
After all, Williams will be desperate for any marginal gain in performance to help their much anticipated resurgence, and a driver able to get the most from their car is one such gain.
So while Orlen and Kubica are wise to keep their options open, it might be that those options are quite limited.
I wonder if Ferrari are still on the lookout for a test driver.