Two former F1 drivers have cast doubt on Robert Kubica's ability to successfully return to formula one next year. More authoritative sources are now joining French broadcaster Canal Plus in claiming that after a test for the Pole in Abu Dhabi, Kubica will be announced as Lance Stroll's teammate at Williams for 2018.
Williams co-founder and former technical boss Patrick Head backed the team's decision to give Kubica a test after the forthcoming F1 finale. "Robert was one of the best drivers in F1 of recent years," he is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat. "Only he knows how ready he is for the challenge. He was seriously injured, and Williams wants to find out what his situation is. If he is able to perform from a physical point of view, he is a very good choice," Head added.
Brazil's Globo claims that while other drivers were considered to replace Felipe Massa next year, Kubica's talent and a reported EUR 8 million in sponsorship collated in part by co-manager Nico Rosberg clinched the deal. But not everyone is convinced.
1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve thinks Kubica's permanently injured right arm means the 32-year-old is a safety risk. "It's not just about the test where he has to get out of a stationary car with the Halo, which is already quite hard," the Canadian told Germany's Auto Bild. "What about a start where he has to abruptly dodge an object? I doubt you can do that with one hand. From my own experience I know you cannot," Villeneuve said.
"I think the FIA needs to think carefully about how they can be 100 per cent sure that Robert is able to avoid accidents. Kubica himself should also think carefully about whether he wants to. This is not about laptimes, he also has a responsibility to his colleagues. The same is true of Williams. If there is a serious accident, the responsibility will be great," Villeneuve added.
Another former Williams driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, agrees. "Honestly, it's a joke," said the Colombian. "I'm sure Robert is no longer 100 per cent capable of pushing a formula one car to the limit."
The media report claims current F1 drivers may raise the issue of Kubica's apparent F1 return in the FIA briefing in Abu Dhabi next Friday. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing