Report: Robert Kubica Faster Than Williams’ Race Drivers
Williams’ reserve driver completed a faster lap than any laid down by the team’s race drivers in practice, and a report gives his pace credence.
Fan favorite driver Robert Kubica, once on track for a Ferrari race seat, had his Formula 1 career derailed by a rally accident in 2011 that nearly severed his right arm. Now back in Formula 1 as a reserve driver for Williams, the 33-year-old Pole hopes to race again before he gets too old to be a desirable driver. Last weekend, at the Spanish Grand Prix, Kubica surprised the paddock by posting laps faster than either of the team's race drivers, Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, despite less time in the car.
Kubica fights a river that flows against him, and back in January, Williams' technical head Paddy Lowe said in an interview with Motorsport that Kubica must "earn the right to the race seat, whatever race seats may be available in 2019," without referring specifically to the team to which he is currently signed. Save for a handful of outings in free practice one sessions confirmed for Kubica, his chances to drive the FW41 this season will be limited.
The Drive spoke to Williams during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend about why Kubica showed speed supposedly superior to either of the team's main drivers. The team spokesperson declined to comment, stating, "you can’t compare different [practice] programs and track conditions."
Kubica himself was satisfied with his performance on track, and claimed he "could make a comeback now," in an interview with BBC Sport. More confidence-inspiring news for Kubica fans surfaced after the Grand Prix weekend concluded.
Well-connected Formula 1 journalist and technical analyst Craig Scarborough appeared on the 3 Legs 4 Wheels podcast, where he reported information from trusted sources who alleged that Kubica's speed was no fluke, and that despite accounting for tire compound and track temperature variation, the Pole was reportedly still faster.
"From what I've heard from people," stated Scarborough, "they said that he was clearly quicker than these fellow drivers, being tire-corrected and all of that sort of stuff, and the people that've offered that opinion with some data to back it up I would tend to believe."
In addition to the apparent pace, Scarborough also spoke positively of Kubica's effect within the team, reported for some time now to be in need of leadership, which he believes Kubica could provide.
"We know Robert's a great driver, he's got the experience, albeit he's kind of been out of the car for quite a while," continued Scarborough. "I think now that there's other aspects of someone that the team can have to lead them and to direct them a bit, which I think would be a good thing, because all due respect to the two drivers that they've currently got, I don't think they are leaders, and they're clearly lacking experience and direction that someone else should have."
"I think Williams may have some difficult decisions coming up, and hopefully that would see Robert get some races in," speculated Scarborough, with regard to the team's apparently shaky future.
In an email to The Drive, Williams declined to comment on Scarborough's statements for this story.