Robert Kubica’s fans are incredible.
On one hand there are a good proportion of them who turn up in vast numbers to every Grand Prix and test session, passionate about their hero and vocal in their support. They lug around huge flags, arriving super early to each and every session so that they get the best views, and have the best opportunity of communicating their support to Poland’s first and only #F1 driver.
These guys are making the most of #RK88’s return to Formula 1 after his prolonged absence as a result of a horrific crash in the rally of Andorra that most of them must have feared had prematurely ended his F1 career.
I wholeheartedly admire them, and they are a credit to the sport and their nation.
There’s also a part of me that feels bad for them. Kubica has returned to Formula 1 in the worst car on the grid, and finds himself comfortably outpaced by his junior teammate in what’s likely to be his last season in F1.
And his fans must know that.
The more pragmatic amongst them must also know that he’s in the worst car on the grid because none of the other teams were prepared to give him his chance to return.
Wiliams gave him that chance exactly because of their position, not despite of it.
That this year’s Williams FW42 is the slowest on the grid can’t have come as too much of a surprise to anyone given the frailties of last year’s FW41 – certainly not Kubica being that he drove it regularly as Williams’ 2018 reserve driver.
He gambled that Williams had remedied whatever ailed the FW41 and that the FW42 would allow him to show that he’s still in possession of what it takes to compete for Grand Prix wins.
Sadly, that gamble hasn’t paid off. A painfully slow car combined with a blisteringly quick team mate have resigned Kubica to plum last and have combined to all but bury his Grand Prix career.
This combination has triggered Kubica’s second group of fans.
They are bitter, they are resentful and refusing to believe that their man could possibly be so far from the pace – ignoring that Kubica has been away from a rapidly evolving sport for an unprecedented eight years and that he returns with a disability – seek to blame anyone and everyone else for his lack of performance.
And they do it with insults and a nastiness I’ve rarely seen before in Formula 1.
Williams bear the brunt of it, but they are not alone. Russell is also a target, as are Mercedes and Toto Wolff.
Their social media timelines are full of nonsense conspiracy theories that I won’t bore you with here. You’ve read them all before.
Speaking to motorsport.com about the negativity from these ‘fans’, Russell said:
“It’s a little bit hurtful that 50% of the comments on my posts are hate from Polish supporters.”
“I’ve not come across anyone who’s disrespecting me, or giving any hate to me, who are not from Poland.”
Speaking at the Verva street racing event in Poland (an event that was supposed to feature both Williams drivers before George Russell pulled out due to illness, further riling these guys) Kubica responded:
“I don’t know if he [Russell] is making a mistake, but I just saw the article and I was a bit surprised that he said it before an event like this”
“Apparently George reads posts on his social media, but I don’t do that so I don’t have those problems.”
“A dozen or so years ago I learned not to read reviews. I do my job and people have the right to express opinions.”
To me this looked like an opportunity to kill the vitriol stone dead, however, playing to the baying crowd somewhat, Kubica chose not to do that choosing instead to lend credibility to the haters.
Which is a massive shame.
When this season comes to a close, and someone like Nicholas Latifi is drafted in by Williams to replace Kubica (something that’s looking more and more likely with each passing Grand Prix) edging the Pole out of F1 I sincerely hope that Kubica’s first group of fans – the ones that attend Grand Prix, that support rather than hate, that love the sport – either find another Polish driver on which to hang their ‘kapelusz’, or find a way to follow the sport as a whole without any Polish involvement.
The second group on the other hand I hope find something or someone else away from Formula 1 upon which to spunk their hatred.