Motorsport.com are reporting that Robert Kubica has agreed a deal to race for Williams in Formula 1 next season alongside Britain’s George Russell.
In a move that will see the Pole return to the Formula 1 grid after an absence of eight years – an absence caused by a horrific accident in the Ronde di Andora rally, where his car left the road and was skewered by an armco barrier, severing his forearm and breaking his elbow, shoulder and leg – Williams have secured their second ‘proper’ racing driver for the 2019 season.
It is thought that Kubica will bring a healthy financial package to Williams, which in essence, allows the team to have their cake and eat it, fulfilling their desire to employ drivers based on merit, but also their necessity for a driver to bring funding to the team allowing the team to compete on a financially stable footing.
Amidst uncertainty around whether Kubica will be physically capable of meeting the demands of a lengthy (and growing) F1 season, what is clear is that Williams have had ample opportunity to evaluate any potential impact on his ability to drive a Formula 1 car as a result of his disability, and have come to the conclusion that this is negligible.
Or at least, certainly not prohibitively difficult to manage over the course of a season.
It is a move that will please many Formula 1 fans desperate to see Kubica bounce back from his terrible injuries on a personal level, but also keen to see if he can recapture some of the scintillating form he showed prior to his forced retirement from the sport, where he demonstrated that he could be a thorn in the side of Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso et al.
While reception to the news was largely positive, some fans reacted with a degree of caution.
Eight years is a long time to be out of Formula 1 (nobody has ever returned from such a lengthy absence and enjoyed any sort of success).
Not only is Robert Kubica returning to F1 after an unprecedented absence, but he also returns carrying a physical disability that could give him a disadvantage over his peers from the outset.
And it’s the sort of disability, in such a key area that he might need an awful lot of talent to compensate for.
Combine the two and there is reason for a degree of scepticism, but in getting back into a race seat Robert Kubica defied most fans’ expectations, so why not take it to the next level?
All of a sudden, Williams’ preparation for 2019 and the development of their FW42 is under intensified scrutiny. There’s little doubt that Kubica’s return will bring an enormous amount of the world’s attention to the team between now and the Australian Grand Prix on the 17th March 2019.
And everyone at Grove will be working tirelessly to make sure that this time they get it right and show the world they’re back in the game!