Robert Kubica to drive for Renault in Hungary test
Pole's remarkable comeback from career-changing injuries continues
By Jonathan Green
Last Updated: 04/08/17 4:02pm
Robert Kubica will drive for Renault in next week's in-season test in Hungary as his remarkable Formula 1 comeback continues.
Kubica has twice run in a 2012 car this year but this will be the Pole's first experience of a 2017 car and increases the possibility of him making a sensational return to Formula 1 in 2018, following career-changing injuries suffered in a rally crash in 2011.
"The first two days of testing allowed both Robert and ourselves to gather a great amount of information," said Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul.
"The upcoming session with the R.S.17 at the Hungaroring will allow us all to obtain detailed and precise data in a current car and representative conditions.
"After this test, we will carefully analyse the collected information to determine in what conditions it would be possible for Robert to return to competition in the upcoming years."
The test at the Hungaroring takes place on August 1-2 and Kubica will share driving duties of the RS17 with DAMS Formula 2 driver Nicholas Latifi.
In June, Kubica drove 115 laps in a private test at Valencia in the 2012 E20 car before completing 90 laps at Paul Ricard on the Wednesday before the British GP in a test which was designed "to extensively evaluate his driving capabilities".
Kubica, a former BMW and Lotus driver, was widely tipped as a future world champion before his one-off participation in an Italian rally between pre-season F1 tests dramatically changed the course of his career.
Just three days after setting the pace at 2011's opening pre-season test, Kubica crashed into a church wall during the Ronde di Andora rally and suffered severe damage to his right hand, arm and leg. He underwent several hours of surgery and suffered a partial amputation of his forearm.
With the restricted movement of his arm initially prohibiting him from driving a single-seater again, Kubica made his competitive return in World Rally in 2013 before racing on circuits again last year.
Just how good was Kubica?
Writing in his Sky F1 column in June, expert analyst Mark Hughes said: "Arguably, in a generation that includes Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, he was the best of them all.
"That, incidentally, was the view of Alonso.
"Hamilton regarded him as the best driver he had ever encountered as they made their way through karting and up the junior car racing ladder.
"BMW-Sauber didn't put up a big fight when Red Bull reclaimed its junior driver Vettel because Sauber felt that its other driver, Kubica, was so much quicker. Vettel had taken over Kubica's former role of Friday tester when Robert was promoted to the race team mid-way through 2006 because his Friday performances were simply too sensational to keep him out of a race seat, something that hastened Jacques Villeneuve's departure.
"In many ways that 2006 half-season was his most impressive of all. On the high-grip Michelin tyres the team was contracted to, he was able to take an outrageous momentum into the corners, overlapping the braking and corner entry phases probably better than anyone else of the time. In his Friday role he was fastest of the field by the outrageous margin of two seconds in Montreal and out on track he looked every bit that. His driving through turns 3-4 that day remain imprinted upon my memory.
"It's still visually the fastest I have ever seen anyone drive.
"I recall Martin Brundle one day in 2008 coming into the commentary booth after having watched a practice session trackside and saying, 'Kubica is pushing about 10 per cent harder through that corner than anyone else', and I knew exactly what he meant."
Confirmed. Kubica in the current Renault at the post-race Hungaroring test. Epic.— Mark Hughes (@SportmphMark) July 24, 2017
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