Formula One: the return of Robert Kubica

If you had any doubt Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of ending his lifelong relationship with McLaren, you only needed to look at the pictures of the team’s post race celebrations after Hamilton’s mighty win in Monza.

Notice anyone missing? Yeah, the winner, Lewis Hamilton.

There’s been talk about Lewis moving to Mercedes all season long. Look back in the Sunday Afternoon Club archive if you don’t believe we got the jump on Eddie Jordan on this story. So let’s move on. The story now is who will replace Lewis in what might still be the championship-winning McLaren.

There are three truly great drivers in F1; Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis. All three can be guaranteed to find more than a few tenths a lap, every lap. The kind of advantage it would otherwise cost a team millions of dollars to find in design and engineering, That’s why the three of them get the big bucks. For a team manager it is a relatively easy cost to justify.

McLaren then have a problem. We love Jenson Button here, of course we do. But he’s just not quite as quick as Lewis. And with Alonso and Vettel tied to Ferrari and Red Bull, McLaren is a top team faced with the possibility of starting next season without a top driver. Whether they opt for Paul Di Resta, or Nico Hulkenberg or possibly even swap for Nico Rosberg, re-unite with Kimi Raikkonen or make a pitch for Sergio Perez, it’s not a good place to be. Remarkably, it seems McLaren did not see this coming; “There is no Plan B,” admitted Martin Whitmarsh.

There are three top teams in F1 and Mercedes, which believes it now has everything in place to become a top team, except maybe a driver. Four teams, three great drivers; F1 needs another hero. Which is why we are all deeply excited about Robert Kubica’s return to competition last weekend and again this coming weekend.

Kubica’s story is familiar, sadly, to us all. A born racer, he could not resist the urge to throw a Skoda Fabia Super 2000 rally car down the first stage of the Ronde di Andorra just days before the start of the 2011 season. The injuries he suffered when the car swallowed a section of Armco beggared belief. He is lucky to be alive, truly, and he celebrated his luck by getting back in a rally car last weekend, an Impreza this time. He didn’t disappoint. It was hardly WRC stuff, but Kubica has at least proved there are no psychological wounds. He dominated, winning every stage of the Ronde di Gomitolo di Lana, coming home over a minute ahead of everyone. He goes in another local event in Italy this weekend, the Rallye San Martino di Castrozza.

But physically, has he got what it takes to get back in to F1 and reclaim his position as the fourth truly great driver? Kubica himself is saying ‘not yet, maybe 2014…’ but he wants to give it a go. Will he make it?

F1 seems largely to have given up on Kubica. At first, after the accident his team (Renault, now Lotus) made it clear there was a car ready and warmed-up for him anytime he wanted it. But then it became apparent that Kubica’s management wanted him to return in a Ferrari and the warm relationship with Renault/Lotus went extremely frosty indeed. Ferrari too has stopped talking about Kubica. Is it just the Pole’s pushy management, or do the teams know more about the likely extent of Kubica’s recovery than they are saying?

Ferrari of course doesn’t need another great driver. It will replace Massa with any of the drivers McLaren is talking to now. But F1 does. And though deep down we think we are praying for something that just can’t happen, the Sunday Afternoon Club hopes it will be Robert Kubica.

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Hmmm I’m positive Hamilton will not go to Mercedes, It makes no sense. This is all a bargaining tool – a double bluff used to higher the pounds (or euros) on his contract. Hamilton will stay at Mclaren.

Hamilton wants the fastest car and my money would be on Mclarens car not Mercedes.
Besides could you imagine Mclaren’s (mediocre) animations series with Paul Di Resta or Rosberg?? No offence.

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Too early for him to make a comeback I think.

If Ron Denis has a word with Lewis it will be sorted pretty quickly, he just doesn’t have the same relationship with Martin Whitmarsh.

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It is said Hamilton want’s world wide recognition, to do that you have to break America. Mercedes say they offer him a better chance of that with them. I doubt it. Anyone who knows America will recognize the fact that there are those who control these things and they are not Mercedes.
Are Rosberg & Schumy known much outside Europe?

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i hope kubica comes back,he was a great driver (although i still believe it was poor judgement rallying a week before he should have been driving an f1 car)
@colin42, nobody in f1 is known in america because all they care about is indycar and nascar, if you wanna get famous there as a f1 driver,you have to switch series like mansell and fittipaldi did to indycar

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Sad to say it because i really like Kubica but Kimi was equal or better than Robert when he quit and he didnt get broken while away. Therefor Kimi’s return is the best superstar return that you can really hope for

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Kubica will come back, but as he says most propably in 2014 .To which team doesn’t really matter .As soon as he’ll do some races every team will want him.

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Hamilton will probably move to Mercedes simply because it’s now the best time for a change. It’s always a team effort but I think with Hamilton on-board, would boost Mercedes’ chances of moving forward and being able to fight it out with the top teams and finally reach their ( Hamilton’s and Mercedes ) goal of winning the F1 championship title.
Mercedes Benz is nearly there and I’m sure they can feel it, they just need that last cog.

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Kubica is surely welcome to F1.

we need a driver like him in top form.

Lets hope he gets fit in time.

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I’m afraid Kubica won’t be coming back. He says himself he’ll never fully recover, and right now he’s trying out for what he can and can’t do in the future. I doubt that F1 will be among the cans. It’s a shame and a big loss, but what can you do?
On the other thing, I find that I’m Hamilton tired. Yesterday saw him claiming he’d learned nothing of Jenson. That’s his loss then, I’d say.

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I’m Hamilton tired too – he seemed a great talent when he entered F1 but soon as Ron Dennis handed over the reins Lewis’ head went off in a different direction, and I don’t think Martin Whitmarsh is at fault at all.

Lewis is quick, but Jenson brings the car home as long as it is still working and usually it is in a high position. Jenson is class and an excellent role model and ambassador for F1 – Lewis simply isn’t. He is too distracted by pop stars and celebrity status (which he doesn’t have any more).

On the subject of Robert Kubica, I hope he is able to return but it seems unlikely. In the meantime, surely he is first in line for the reasonably priced car in the new series of TG…?!

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it’s such a crying shame what had to happen with kubica.the level of competition we’ve already seen this past year so far,it beggars belief what a driver of kubica’s capability could have done with a car even remotely capable.
i will admit i’m highly skeptical if he can ever come back to the level he left at but the sport could really use a great feel good comeback story right now in the midst of all the open animosity between teams.
i find it shocking the way interest in robert died out completely following kimi’s successful return.the way i see things is that if perez moves on,and i were at sauber,i’d take a punt on kubica.give him a year or 2 and he’d prove himself for the big boys to have a look themselves again.
as for lewis,oh god.it’s turned into the type of insufferable transfer saga that has so far been the domain of star footballers.

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Good to see Kubica back behind the wheel. But he has limited movement in his arm and hand, that may never return.

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He was a great driver, and as for now we can see he still is. I would love to see him doing the lap in the ‘Reasonable priced car.’

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I really don’t see the point of Ham going to Mercedes. The car is clearly not as good as the McLaren and everybody knows it. It would be a setback for Lewis championship ambitions, and, I’m sorry, I think that Hamilton’s too much of a racer to value money over a car he can win races with. And he’s rich enough already.

If I’m wrong you can call both me and Ham an idiot.

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When will TopGear interview Alonso and Kubica ? Two greatest living drivers… will there ever be interview ?

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get real alo. even if alonso does get interviewed on top gear,he’ll have to win the wdc first,so at the earliest late 2013(besides,hes not british,thats why they didnt interview back in 2006 when he won his second wdc

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Kubica is a good driver and I would like to see him return. But one can not go past the new up and coming. Perez. Two second places this year in a Sauber. I hope he go to Mclaren or Red Bull and not Ferrari because lets face it, going to Ferrari he would have to yield to Alonso. No “”Perez is faster than you Alonso, do you understand?”

If Hamilton goes to Merc, Perez should go to Mclaren and Kubica may get a drive in Sauber

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Right bro…perez reminds me of young Kubica at Sauber…next big talent after Alo – Ham – Kub…they are pure talents, no need for… Vettelishness(Ham however beats Vettel in the field of ***bling** stuff) for them to be stars :) Sergio is looking veeery promising indeed…

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Kubica is without doubts one of the best drivers. It would be great to see him in F1 car again.
In the mean time – invite him for TG, please! i would love to see him doing a lap

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