Robert Kubica yesterday completed 115 laps in a 2012-spec Renault Formula 1 car at the Valencia circuit during a test initially for Russian reserve driver Sergey Sirotkin.
It was Kubica’s first time in an F1 car since his rallying accident in 2011. You can read Mark Hughes discussing the potential of the Pole’s comeback here, believing this test to be ‘far more than just a nice day out.’ His pace is thought to have been very quick, and is rumoured to have been quicker than Sirotkin.
The 32-year-old told Renault: “I would like to thank those who made this moment possible, I hope it was a good experience for everyone and it may have reminded some memories to some! It was a very important day for me from an emotional point of view. I stayed away from the paddocks for a long time and I experienced difficult times. I have never stopped working, but I would not have thought it possible a few years ago. My feelings are shared: I am proud of what I did today, but it reminds me of what I have gone through. I do not know what the future will bring me, but I know that after more than a year of preparation for this moment, I was able to drive with good rhythm and under difficult conditions. It was not obvious after six years, I knew I could get there and I can be satisfied. Renault was the first manufacturer to test me in 2005 and I appreciated this new opportunity.”
The team’s sporting director Alan Permane added: “It was a good time to see Robert again at the wheel of a Formula One car. The day went very well. We tried to condense a Grand Prix weekend in one day, which was very interesting for him. Robert has changed a bit, he has softened and he no longer insists as much when he has a question about the tiniest detail of the settings of his car! But his comments and his technical return have all rejuvenated us a few years! It was not obvious to go up in an F1 after six years and it is a great performance. It was a one-off event for Robert. His collaboration with Renault was abruptly cut short, while we saw a bright future for him. The team was in Valencia with Sergey Sirotkin, it was the perfect opportunity to offer Robert a day in the car and contribute our way to his recovery.”