Former Williams driver Robert Kubica has been announced as reserve driver for the Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team for 2020 – the team with which he began his F1 journey in 2006.
With him goes sponsorship from ORLEN – the Polish petrochemical company that financed his return with Williams – who now, as part of the deal, form part of the rebranded team’s name.
Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen as they’ll be known (trips off the tongue doesn’t it??) bring in Kubica after a miraculous return to #F1 in 2019 after a horror crash in the Rally of Andorra nine years ago left the Pole with injuries that would have ended most careers.
His return with Williams, however, was not the fairytale he’d hoped for and he spent most the season trailing around at the back of the field, scoring just a single (and Williams’ only) point.
Kubica returns to the team with which he registered his only Grand Prix win, albeit under a different guise.
Then effectively the works BMW team, BMW-Sauber reverted to Sauber when the German marque withdrew from F1 in 2009, subsequently becoming Alfa Romeo when they extended their existing relationship with Ferrari for 2019.
Whether or not Kubica once again finds himself behind the wheel of an F1 car remains to be seen – the team already has its two race drivers for 2020 signed up in Antonio Giovinazzi and imi Raikkonen – and it’s not yet confirmed if Kubica will have a role outside the simulator.
That there will be significant pressure on Alfa by his backers Orlen and by his legion of, at times rabid, supporters to install him as driver at the first and every subsequent opportunity you can be sure, their belief in their man undimmed despite a season where Kubica proved little other than the fact that he was unable to compete in f1 in 2019, choosing instead to place all responsibility for his lack of pace at Williams’ door.
I hope Fred Vasseur, Kimi, Giovinazzi et al have braced themselves because it may very well turn ugly.
Having said this, I wish Robert every success in his new opportunity – I hope he finally finds the fulfilment he seemed to lack at Williams in Formula 1.