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Talk on Corners
Christopher Wheelahan

Chris first caught the F1 flu back in 2003 but lost track due to the snooze-fest that was the 2004 season. In 2010 Chris rediscovered the sport and has become enthralled since. He makes no claims to be a superb writer or journalist but only an obsessive follower of motorsport, particularly F1. Nowadays Chris spends his spare time experimenting with cocktails and wasting time with Musical Theatre types. He does not enjoy long walks on the beach… sorry.

Return to Pole // If Robert Kubica makes a return in 2013, where will he be?

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Frankly there is no real, compelling evidence that Robert Kubica will return to F1 at all. It would take a lot of testing and proving that he still “has what it takes” before anyone will even consider him for a race seat but let’s assume that he recovers in spectacular fashion and that he does make the return in 2013. What team will he be driving for?

Sure, anyone would take him if he did a mediocre job in his first few tests, but what if he blows everyone out of the water? What if he hasn’t lost a step and could realistically look at a top team? There are already six world champions on the grid and perhaps seven by next season but some scenarios would make a whole lot of sense when the music stops.

Kubica turns the timesheet purple
Kubica turns the timesheet purpleCredit: LAT Photographic

No place like home

Lotus would have been the most logical open chair had they not already filled it with a former world champion. Many would argue that a Kubica-Räikkönen team in Enstone would be unstoppable given a good car and perhaps they would but there is really no indication that the team would be any better with Kubica over Grosjean. Grosjean has done remarkably well in the races that he’s finished. Räikkönen has done too. Candidly, the team is still very much in the title fight, although at the trailing edge of it.

The point is – Kubica would be much more expensive than Grosjean for not much more utility. Lotus and Éric Boullier are happy with what they have, I would think. Unfortunately, Kubica is now out-of-contract with Lotus so they can’t even use him as a bargaining chip with other teams.

Robert was also linked with a move to Ferrari

Robert was also linked with a move to Ferrari before the accident that nearly killed him. Many even speculated that he was already under contract to replace Felipe Massa. I find it difficult to believe that this is the case unless he is still under contract to begin testing in the future. Something more concrete would have slipped regarding a contract being in place and the speculation over the next Ferrari driver (see my previous article) would probably not be quite as rampant. Domenicali would have shut it down by now. It distracts from the mission of winning races.

Seat shuffle

Kubica and Heidfeld in karts
Credit: BMW / John Townsend

So Lotus and Ferrari are probably out. Now imagine this situation: Massa continues to underperform, Domenicali makes the move for a solid number two driver in Mark Webber (as is the current speculation) and there is an open seat at Red Bull. If Kubica performs well in a car on his first few outings there would be some pretty strong whisperings of a Kubica-Red Bull move.

The problem here is that Red Bull are in F1 for the relatively short term. They don’t particularly wish to invest in drivers unless they are the young, cheap, disposable kind (looking at you Jaime, Sebastian, Jean-Éric and Daniel). Unless the cars are winning and promoting their noisome swill, Mateschitz is not interested and presumably Kubica would need the kind of warm-up time that the team is not willing to give. Kubica/Red Bull is possible, but not probable.

Down like a domino

Continue to imagine: Red Bull goes with the sure thing in Lewis Hamilton (whose contract is up this year) instead. So that’s Webber to Ferrari, Hamilton to Red Bull and an open seat at McLaren. The pairing of Kubica and Button is an interesting one to be sure. There are things one could learn from the other. JB certainly has the experience to teach Kubica more than he already knows and Kubica may be the push Jenson needs to get him back in the title fight. Perhaps it’s not a match made in heaven, but it could be a match made nonetheless.

To be clear, I don’t think Kubica is even in the picture for 2013. We would have heard more about it by now if he were, and that’s unfortunate because he truly was (is?) a great driver and an inspiration to youngsters all over Poland. What we’ve explored are really just the options and logistical facts surrounding a potential comeback.

Get well soon Robert. We miss you!




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