Robert Kubica Reportedly Seeking 2019 Formula 1 Seat
Kubica says he's looking for a chance to race again in 2019, but which teams are most likely to give him a chance?
Williams reserve driver and Formula 1 fan favorite Robert Kubica is allegedly planning to shop around for a race seat for the 2019 Formula 1 season during the summer. The Pole was quoted expressing these plans by a news presenter from his homeland in a tweet Wednesday.
"I have a chance to knock on a few doors, it's happening or it will happen soon," stated Kubica, according to an approximate translation. "Within 2-3 months, it should be clear what I will do next year."
Kubica was originally linked to a Formula 1 comeback with Renault, and later Williams, before retreating to the role of reserve driver when Sergey Sirotkin was picked by Williams in lieu of Kubica. His options for a race seat in 2019 will likely be limited to teams expected to swap out at least one driver, which are thought to include Haas, Alfa Romeo Sauber, Toro Rosso-Honda, and possibly McLaren.
Haas' Romain Grosjean scored his first points of the season at last weekend's Austrian Grand Prix, outracing his teammate Kevin Magnussen. Because of critical mistakes in Azerbaijan, Spain, and France, and otherwise subpar performance compared to his teammate, some speculate his seat may be up for grabs if his performance does not improve by season's end.
At least one Alfa Romeo Sauber seat is thought to be potentially available. Charles Leclerc is linked to an alleged Ferrari promotion for 2019, replacing Kimi Räikkönen, which would leave a seat open, and Marcus Ericsson's uninspiring performance throughout most of his Formula 1 career may also threaten his tenure with the team.
Toro Rosso-Honda is reportedly unsatisfied with Brendon Hartley, and with little talent in its junior series pipeline, it is speculated to seek a replacement from another team.
At McLaren, Stoffel Vandoorne is under pressure to justify holding on to his seat, which is threatened by highly valued McLaren junior Lando Norris. Vandoorne has not underperformed, but he has not shown signs of being exceptional among his generation of drivers, and may need to plan an exit strategy if he comes under threat of replacement by Norris. Fernando Alonso's patience with the team is waning, though the public does not know where he draws the line.
Norris and Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi are the keys to the young driver market and their likely destinations—along with the drivers they may displace—will affect Kubica's trajectory. Giovinazzi is expected to fill either Leclerc's or Grosjean's seats, and Norris may displace Vandoorne, whose ideal contingency plan may be the Ferrari customer team opposite Giovinazzi.
Lack of upward movement within the Red Bull organization makes the Toro Rosso-Honda seat inherently unattractive, and whether any 2019 seats will be available at McLaren at all is uncertain. Fights for the hypothetical remaining drives at Alfa Romeo Sauber and Haas may be the most contested, and could be fought between Kubica, Giovinazzi, and possibly Vandoorne. There are too many unknowns at present to declare any single team the best or most likely target of Kubica.
The Drive contacted Kubica's current contracted team, Williams, for comment on whether its relationship with Kubica has changed, or if the team is aware of the alleged "knocking on doors."
"Our relationship with Robert hasn't changed," stated a Williams spokesperson in an email to The Drive. "We have had no discussions, so no idea what teams he may talk to, but he has said in a few interviews that he wants a drive, so it isn't surprising. 2019 drivers are not something we are looking at at the moment"