Robert Kubica’s Abu Dhabi F1 Test Leaves Us With Questions
Day two is over, but we have more questions than we started the day with.
Robert Kubica's first day of the Pirelli tire test went, by his own lofty standards, swimmingly. He was satisfied with his own performance, and his driving convinced Williams once and for all that his fitness has not been impacted by his maiming 2011 rally crash. Some fans even suspected that Kubica may even be in possession of an FIA Super License, which would allow him to race in Formula 1 next year, based upon the red light on the back of his car normally reserved for license holders. Williams, however, confirmed to The Drive Wednesday that he does not have this license.
Complicating matters, young Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin, who drove the morning session of Wednesday's test for Williams, was spotted with the same flashing red light on the back of his car. F1 Fanatic reports that Sirotkin is indeed eligible for the FIA Super License, which prompted us to ask the team about the situation again, to see if Sirotkin is now licensed.
"Sergey has a super license," said a Williams spokesperson, "Robert does not. Neither fact is really relevant, though, regarding our Pirelli test this week, or any decisions going forward."
In the FIA's Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, available to the public on its website, regulation 10.8 stipulates that the proper light color must be used even during test sessions involving current cars, but no penalty for violation of this rule is outlined.
In light of Tuesday's apparent oversight, sending Kubica out with the red light, the team activated the green light instead for his test Wednesday, as can be seen in the video posted to the team's twitter account.
Pirelli, with testing concluded, posted every driver's best times from the test, revealing Kubica to be the driver to post the fastest time of the three Williams drivers to perform during the test days. He set a 1:39.485 on the 2018 Hypersoft tire, close to a tenth of a second faster than Lance Stroll, who recorded 1:39.580. Sirotkin impressed, however, managing 1:39.947 on the Soft tire—three degrees harder than the Hypersoft. By contrast, Kubica's best time on the Soft tire was 1:41.296, over 1.3 seconds slower than Sirotkin's time.
The team was quick to express how pleased it was with Sirotkin's performance, with William's technical director Paddy Lowe praising the young Slav's display of driving.
"Sergey was great, he is a driver with whom we had never worked before, apart from a simulator test," said Lowe to Motorsport Italy, "he's a very promising, disciplined and mature guy, he completed a very positive test and gave us excellent feedback."
Lowe paired this laud for Sirotkin with a warning not to jump to conclusions about each driver's performance based upon the lap times available to the public, stating that even the team does not yet know who performed best.
"I'm sure you want me to give some answers about that but it's not something we are not going to discuss," said Lowe to Motorsport, "it's a really complicated topic, performance and speed, so to read a timesheet is quite misleading, so I'm not gonna talk about that. We haven't even analyzed it for ourselves."
Sirotkin himself, in an interview with Motorsport Russia, revealed that his quickest lap of the day was interrupted by transmission problems, forcing a midday swap that thieved two hours of track time from him.
Lowe insinuated that Sirotkin, despite his performance, may not be in contention for next year's race seat.
"The drivers we brought to this test doesn't mean that it's the drivers under consideration for racing next year," he said.
A potentially optimistic note to end on for Kubica's fans is the mention made by Motorsport Italy about Kubica's fastest lap is that he set his 1:39.485 as his last lap of the day. There may be no evidence to support the idea, but we'd like to imagine he had still more time in him, but no track time left with which to demonstrate it, the red flag waving over Yas Marina Circuit.