F1 Fanatic guest writer Journeyer looks at Robert Kubica’s F1 career so far as the Polish driver prepares to switch teams for 2010.
Kubica is touted as one of F1’s rising stars, and with good reason. Let’s take a look back at his racing career to date.
1999 – His first noteworthy performance was in his early karting days. He won the Junior Monaco Kart Cup two years running. This is the second of his wins.
2000 – Even at this early stage Kubica was starting to become popular in his native Poland. Here he is giving a karting demonstration for Polish TV – along with the prerequisite live interviews.
2005 – Kubica was a regular at Macau – he went there thrice in an attempt to win there. However, he could do no better than second in 2004 and 2005. In this race, he couldn’t beat Lucas di Grassi for the win. As you watch the on-boards, keep an eye on Bruno Senna, who stuffed his car into the barriers.
As he was wrapping up his F3 commitments, Kubica began to drive in the World Series by Renault. Driving just one year in the series, he took the championship with the Epsilon Euskadi team. Thanks to that championship, he got a one-off test drive in a Renault F1 car. Despite impressing everyone in the team, Flavio Briatore wavered before making a decision, and eventually lost Robert to BMW.
Here is an amateur video of the start at Donington that year. Keep an eye on Robert as he moved up to 3rd in the course of the short video.
2006 – By moving up to F1 as a third driver for BMW, Kubica was taking a risk by not actively racing anywhere else. However, his pace during the Friday practice sessions stunned people in the paddock. Rumors then began to swirl about Kubica getting an early crack at a race drive.
Jacques Villeneuve’s accident in Germany was all the opportunity they needed. They duly asked Kubica to substitute for the “unwell” Villeneuve, and would’ve scored a point on his debut had his car not been underweight.
But it would get even better. Here’s the start of the Italian Grand Prix where, thanks to his awesome getaway and a little bit of luck, he earned his first ever podium finish.
2007 – The one big thing that happened to Kubica in his first full season was that huge crash in Canada. He was very lucky to suffer nothing more than a mild concussion and a sprain. Here are the highlights from that race (accident starts at 0:35) – with a Takuma Sato cameo at the end, too.
The accident wasn’t Kubica’s only problem, though – he also found it very difficult to beat his team mate Nick Heidfeld that season, which took a bit of the lustre from Kubica’s star.
2008 – Last year was Robert’s best F1 season to date. He had a solid start to the season, taking his first pole position in Bahrain, and finally scoring his and BMW’s first win in Canada. At that point, he was leading the drivers championship, and BMW was only a couple of points away from leading the constructors.
But BMW’s form faded, and so did Kubica’s chances, despite Hamilton’s and Massa’s many errors. Thanks to a podium in Japan, he still had an outside chance in China, but a poor weekend meant he was no longer in contention by Brazil.
2009 – BMW always claimed that they had reduced work on their 2008 car to focus on their 2009 car. Initially, it seemed to have paid off, after nearly finishing on the podium in Australia (if Robert hadn’t collided with former BMW team mate Sebastian Vettel, as shown below).
Since then, they’ve been trouble with many reliability problems that has put them closer to the bottom of the standings than the top. It may have been one of the reasons behind BMW’s sudden withdrawal from F1 for 2010 onwards.
So Kubica now returns to the team that helped him into F1 – Renault. But a post-Fernando Alonso Renault does not initially look too encouraging for Robert. He’ll need to work very hard to drag the car and the team back to the front.