Polish star of race track and rally stage, Robert Kubica, claims that he is ready for a return to full-time competition following the disastrous accident he suffered on the Ronde di Andora in February 2011, when his Škoda Fabia S2000 struck the end of a guard rail. The accident resulted in partial amputation of his forearm, compound fractures to his right elbow, shoulder and leg, as well as significant loss of blood which has required long and painful rehabilitation from the moment that his life was out of danger.
Throughout that time, Kubica’s employers at the Lotus F1 Team have kept his seat available ready for his return. Kubica’s revocery has been protracted, and suffered setbacks including slipping on ice in the street and falling last winter, aggravating his injuries. Nevertheless, the man himself is confident and in September this year he made a return to competition by winning the Ronde Gomitolo Di Lana at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza WRC.
After surviving a crash on the San Martino di Castrozza Rally without further injury, Kubica won again in last month’s Rally Citta di Bassano, and stated at the time that he would be ready to attempt a full season in competition through 2013. This week, Kubica announced that he will be contesting one more Italian event, the Rally di Como on 15-17 November, and will then head to France for the Rallye du Var a week later. In both of these events he will be entered by Citroën Racing in a 2010-specification C4 WRC.
Lotus has meanwhile soldiered on in Kubica’s absence: a miserable 2011 season led to the signing of 2007 F1 world champion and latterly WRC contestant Kimi Räikkönen on a one-year deal for 2012, delivering his best year’s racing in almost a decade. Kimi has re-signed for Lotus in 2013, while the second driver – Franco-Swiss hotshoe Sébastien Grosjean – has alternately shone and infuriated the team and the F1 paddock as a whole.
Grosjean’s position in the team is in the balance despite the patronage of team principal Eric Boullier, and it may well be that the team is seeking to honour its commitment to Kubica if he proves himself strong enough to cope with the g-forces entailed in hustling an F1 car about the place. If not for a full season, then for as many races as is prudent with an eye to supporting a title bid for Räikkönen and scoring constructors’ points, with Grosjean being offered a deal to drive whenever Kubica is unable to do so.
“At the moment I’m working on the possibility of a full season of starts in 2013 to the highest possible level,” Kubica recently said to Autosport.cz.
Interestingly he has also stated to Italian magazine Autosprint that he envisages the year ahead being split between circuit his two beloved disciplines: ‘I think of my future I see it 70 per cent on track and 30 per cent in rallying,’ he said.
With a pair of part-time drives available at the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team next year, Kubica’s 30 per cent season of rallying might well tie in nicely with the vacant seat in Khalid Al Qassimi’s DS3 WRC. The Rallye du Var is for many teams the ideal test session for January’s Monte Carlo Rally, in which Kubica could take part and get used to the hubbub of media attention before trying his hand at the wheel of a Formula One machine once again.
For one of the sport’s good guys, we can only hope that 2013 marks an enjoyable new beginning.