Hang On, What’s Robert Kubica Doing at Monza?

The Polishman, linked to a potential return to Formula One with Renault, was spotted at the Italian Grand Prix's practice session Friday.

Robert Kubica has been the cause of much excitement in the Formula One world since June, when the public discovered that the beloved Polish driver—whose body and career were crippled after a rally crash in early 2011—was getting a chance to drive the team’s 2012 car. His performance was satisfactory enough for Renault Sport to move him up to their current car, the R.S.17, for a test in Hungary

Since his test in early August, we have heard nary a peep from both Renault and Kubica, save for the confirmation that Kubica’s physical limitations do not impact his driving. Nothing new came out for almost a month—until Friday morning, when Kubica was sighted hanging around the paddock during Free Practice 1 for this year’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Now, before we engage in the time-honored tradition of speculation over every last detail in Formula One, we must bring some context to Kubica’s visit. SkySports Italy invited Robert Kubica to join them in commentating on today’s Free Practice 2 session, so we can confirm that he’s not going to slip into some Nomex and steal Jolyon Palmer’s car out from underneath him.

Kubica’s cameo with SkySports Italy may not be the only reason for him to be present at the race; in fact, we may get an answer about Kubica’s future in Formula One this very weekend. In an interview between Red Bull’s Dr. Helmut Marko and Brazil’s Globo Esporte, Marko linked the ongoing story of win-ready Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Junior with that of Kubica, recounting that Renault tried to poach Sainz from the Red Bull program in 2016. He continued on to state that Sainz’s potential migration to Renault is dependent on Renault’s final decision on one driver, Robert Kubica—and that he believes said decision will come this weekend, in Monza. 

“I believe that in Monza we will have a clearer view of the outcome of this story,” spoke Dr. Marko to Globo Esporte.

With Kubica present at the race weekend said to decide his fate, we can’t help but wonder if Dr. Helmut Marko is in on a little secret, one he decided to share with the rest of us. We’ll find out by Monday if Renault has made up their mind.