Robert Kubica was one of three Williams drivers in action in the FW40 car last week alongside Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin. Kubica was quickest in a time of 1:39.485 with Stroll (1:39.580) and Sirotkin (1:39.947) further back. The test was aimed at evaluating tyre performance rather than the car’s and fuel loads are unknown, which makes it hard to compare results. But Paddy Lowe was suitably impressed that Kubica, who has recovered from a life-threatening rally accident in 2011, is performing well.
He said: “From what we’ve seen from Robert is incredible, actually, with what he’s been through. He’s a driver of fantastic talent but also huge determination to come back from that sort of injury to drive these sort of cars. These are the fastest cars in the history of the sport and he was in there last week driving extremely competitively. Even at that level, you have to give him huge credit for what he has achieved so far.”
There have been concerns over Kubica’s return due to the physical nature of F1 and the effects the 2011 crash had on his right arm. Surgeons removed part of his right forearm following the incident and he has limitations in certain functions. Although that has not deterred him. Kubica, 32, had not driven an F1 car for six years before first testing for Renault in the summer. Williams are the only team with a seat open left for next season and he’s competing with the likes of Paul Di Resta, Daniil Kvyat, Wehrlein and Sirotkin to get it.
Lowe added: ”We are not placing any particular timescale to it. I know it’s getting a lot of attention because it’s not the last seat that isn’t confirmed for 2018 and Robert is certainly well in there but, as we’ve said all along, we’re open and there are lots of drivers under consideration and we’re not giving out any clues at the moment.”