Robert Kubica, one of the promising Formula 1 driver suffered a major accident in 2011 that forced him to retire from motorsports for good. Kubica was involved in a horrific accident during a rallying championship in northern Italy, six and a half years ago, that left him fighting for his life. A steel roadside barrier penetrated his car, and Kubica, leaving him with multiple fractures in his body and a partially severed right arm.
Two years after the accident, Kubica thought that he would never return to F1, for which he had raced 4 seasons, and the fifth one was about to start. But he didn’t leave rallying and was back running in a rally car just 18 months after the accident. This year, Kubica decided to return to the pinnacle of the motorsports – the F1.
Kubica, drove a contemporary F1 car for the first time since the accident, after putting up some practice laps in the Renault cars for the past few months. The 32-year driver returned to the practice run of the Hungarian Grand Prix and clocked up an impressive 142 laps, across 20 stints, with a best time of 1m18.572s, 1.448s slower than the race leader Sebastian Vettel.
While he ended the morning session as the seventh quickest, the 32-year-old Polish driver started the afternoon with a series of shorter runs, on supersoft tyres. But he took up to the ultrasoft tyres, enabling him to finish fourth. His lap count means that he raced equivalent of over two Hungarian Grand Prix race distances, in less than eight-hour session.
Kubica's stint at Hungaroring is has left his fans, colleagues, bosses and potential team mates in awe. "It was a fantastic feeling for me to be here today in the RS17 and also it was amazing to see so many fans come to see me out on track, so thank you to all of them," said Kubica. Since the practice took place just days after the actual Hungarian GP, Renault had the chance to judge Kubica in comparison against the benchmarks set by drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer.
"It has been an incredible journey to this point, where I have answered many questions to myself. The car is certainly wider than before. I was able to work through the team's programme methodically and I think we made good progress,” he added. "After today, it's too early to say what the next step might be. For now, I owe a big thanks to everyone at Renault for making this test happen."
Vettel led the race in the morning session, before handing his Ferrari to teammate Kimi Raikkonen, and remained unchallenged in the afternoon. Lando Norris was the only driver who could come close to the German. Norris raced for McLaren as part of his prize for winning the 2016 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.
Raikkonen was the third quickest, followed by Carlos Sainz in the fifth, a quarter of second ahead of Toro Rosso teammate Daniil Kvyat. Mercedes DTM frontrunner Lucas Auer, finished seventh, followed by George Russell in Mercedes in the eighth. Russian Formula 3 driver Mazepin driving the Force India finished ninth and with Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly completed the top 10th.
The race acts as a potential driver hunt for the next season, and also a final check for cars before going for a month long summer break.