Last night, the Dutch broadcaster RTL declared a source within the Grove outfit revealed to them that Williams have just signed Polish driver Robert Kubica for the 2018 / 19 F1 season.
Rumour has it that the ex BMW and Lotus driver has secured a seat at Williams replacing Felipe Massa who will be driving his last F1 weekend at Abu Dhabi. These rumours has persisted for several weeks but finally something more specific has been revealed with confirmation that the deal has been sealed – RTL being a fairly reliable mainstream source in the past. Williams themselves have denied the deal, but historically they’ve always kept their cards close to their chest in these matters.
Race winner Robert Kubica suffered horrific arm injuries during the offseason whilst rallying at the Ronde di Andora in 2011, leaving him unable to drive Lotus Renault F1 team for 2011. Kubica was trapped in the car for more than an hour before rescue workers were able to extricate him. He was flown by helicopter to Santa Corona Hospital in Pietra Ligure near Savona, where it was confirmed that he had suffered partial amputation of his forearm, compound fractures to his right elbow, shoulder and leg, as well as significant loss of blood. The severity of his injuries was the result of the crash barrier penetrating the car’s cockpit, and hitting Kubica, while leaving his co-driver unscathed. Kubica underwent a seven-hour operation by seven doctors split into two teams.
Despite these injuries, the Polish talent continued to drive competitively in other series, culminating to successfully driving a test in Hungary for Renault this year. Renault were evaluating their options to rid themselves of the British driver Joylon Palmer. The signing of Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, who replaced Palmer at the US GP this year killed Kubica’s chances of a return until Williams offered him a shootout test against Paul di Resta. It now seems that Kubica has won the seat.
So why no announcement?
The issue of an insurance payout given to Kubica, when it was clear he couldn’t compete in Formula One, required settlement as monies had to be returned upon a successful deal being signed, or so the whispers have it.
Further, Giancarlo Minardi has added his insider view to the mix claiming that Kubica will be performing extra tyre test duties for Williams just a week shy of the final test at Abu Dhabi, presumably to further evaluate his ability for sustained seat time.