Robert Kubica Races ’70 Percent Left-Handed’ After Almost Losing Right Arm

The Pole’s rally crash left him with limited use of his right arm, but he adapted, and now drives southpaw like an ace.

byJames Gilboy|
Robert Kubica Races ’70 Percent Left-Handed’ After Almost Losing Right Arm

Williams Formula 1 reserve driver Robert Kubica nearly lost part of his right arm in a preseason rally crash in 2011, which sidelined his Ferrari-bound racing career. He has been working hard to return to the sport he loves since and revealed Friday that his injury made him reassign his finer dexterities to his left hand, which now carries as much as 70 percent of the burden of driving.

"When I'm driving, I'm driving around 70 percent left-handed and 30 percent right," Kubica explained in an interview with Motorsport. "If I were to try to do fifty-fifty like the old days, I would not manage it."

"I cannot try to do the things I used to do because, with my limitation, I'm not able to do it.” Kubica continued, “That's not only driving but also living [sic]. Everything I tried to do in the same way, I got disappointed, but then I realised I could still do them in different ways.”

Kubica's focus on compensating for his right arm's handicap has made his left strong but also precise.

"Many years ago, when I started testing with simulators, I asked my doctor if it's possible I have much better sensitivity, more precision in my left arm," Kubica said. "Last year, I was asked by Renault to go to a medical centre where they test a lot of that stuff. Actually, my results for precision, and speed, and force of the left arm was at least 35 percent better than the best they have ever seen."

Currently playing backup for Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll at Williams, Kubica wants to be more than a benchwarmer and is searching for a race seat for the 2019 season.

"I have a chance to knock on a few doors, it's happening or it will happen soon," stated Kubica in early July. "Within two-three months, it should be clear what I will do next year."

Significant mobility handicaps have become less inhibitive of racing careers over the last few decades. Past CART champion Alex Zanardi lost both legs in a catastrophic crash years ago, but his racing career soldiered on, as he chose to adopt hand controls in place of foot pedals. A similar success story could manifest for Billy Monger, a British Formula 4 driver who lost his own lower legs in a terrible crash. The curse came as a blessing in disguise for the young driver, as his accident drew widespread support from professional racing drivers, giving him the opportunity for a promotion to Formula 3, where he was immediately successful.

If there is anything for us to take from the likes of Monger, Zanardi, and Kubica, it's that serious injuries won't stop a fiery heart. Hats off to all three.