Robert Kubica to test again for Renault as team weighs comeback at 'highest level'

Robert Kubica
Robert Kubica raced 76 times in F1 for Sauber & Renault between 2006-10

Robert Kubica is to test for Renault a second time to allow the team to "assess his capabilities to return to the highest level of competition".

The Pole, 32, has only partial movement in his right arm after a crash in a rally car in February 2011, since when he has not raced on a circuit.

However, he and Renault have maintained contact after an impressive first test back in an F1 car in Valencia in June.

The second test will be at Circuit Paul Ricard on a date to be confirmed.

Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul said: "While the first day of testing at Valencia was no more than to let Robert get reacquainted with the feel of driving again, this second test will be to assess his capabilities to return to the highest level of competition.

"This is a new phase in his personal and professional journey and we are proud to support him.

"There are still many hurdles for him to overcome, and he knows better than anyone else that only his performance will determine if he can one day return to being a professional driver."

Kubica was faster than Renault's reserve driver Sergey Sirotkin when he drove at Valencia in a 2012 car.

Insiders say he has since driven the team's simulator and been as quick in it as lead driver Nico Hulkenberg, although this is not necessarily an accurate measurement of his on-track potential.

Senior figures are excited about the potential for a return, a source said, but still sceptical of Kubica's ability to make a full comeback to F1 because of the restrictions imposed upon him by his arm injury.

His F1 career appeared to be over when he suffered multiple fractures and a partially severed right arm in the February 2011 crash, which happened a few weeks before he was scheduled to start his second season with Renault.

Kubica had previously driven for BMW Sauber, winning the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, and was considered one of the sport's brightest talents - rated by some in a similar bracket to multiple world champions Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

Kubica drove a Renault 2012 F1 car in a demonstration run at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on 2 July and told Sky Sports: "I know I can do pretty well behind the wheel of an F1 car already after one day of testing. So more can come from me.

"It is a good feeling. It is something I was not expecting, to deliver so well straight away.

"This gives me, not confidence, because I knew as a driver that the skills are there, but a relief that can do it physically, that I can make the job.

"I still know there is a long way to go and I need to do it step by step. If I have an opportunity, I will try to do my best. If not, I will search for something else. It has been a long time away from the circuit.

"When you get to an F1 car and after one lap you see the pace is there, it is special emotions and I miss it so much. I am enjoying the moment because I have been through difficult days - but I could never believe I could be in this position four or five months ago."

Media playback is not supported on this device

Kubica chasing 'impossible' F1 dream

Because of Kubica's physical restrictions, Renault needed to change the cockpit controls so that all the control buttons are on the left-hand side of the steering wheel. They also needed to adapt the gearshift so that up and down shifts are both handled by the left-hand steering wheel paddle.

However, Kubica has yet to drive a 2017-spec car, which is faster and more physical than the one he has tested so far, and there are still questions over his ability to operate an F1 car in all corners - with tight left-handers the main concern because of the restricted movement in his right arm.

Renault's links with Kubica come with the future of Briton Jolyon Palmer, their second driver, in doubt.

Palmer has had a difficult first eight races of the season and the team have been considering replacing him for the second half of the year.

However, no decision has yet been taken and the team insist their focus is on helping Palmer deliver the results they expect.

Abiteboul said at the last race in Azerbaijan: "He has a contract with us. We are completely committed to helping him get through the period, which is a tough period, that's obvious.

"He has no ultimatum, but having said that he has to deliver, like every single member of the team."

Top Stories