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The Five Best Drives of Robert Kubica

Robert Kubica was the first Eastern European driver in F1 who looked like a potential future world champion. Unfortunately, his F1 career was cut short after he suffered a terrible rally injury just before the beginning of the 2011 season. His career never recovered from the accident where he suffered a lasting arm injury, but his short career was more than enough to show what a brilliant driver Kubica was.

2006 Italian GP

Kubica made his F1 debut at the 2006 Hungarian GP. He out-qualified his more experienced teammate straight away and scored 2 points on his debut. Unfortunately for him, he was later disqualified as his car was marginally underweight.

Still, Kubica continued to impress, and in his third race in Italy, he qualified 6th. He made a good start and moved up to third after the start. The rookie was having a superb drive and he was fighting with championship leader Fernando Alonso for the final podium spot.

Alonso had a faster car and it was clear that if he only could pass Kubica, he would probably pull away from his rival. The two entered the pits at the same lap for their final stop, and thanks to the quick Renault crew, Alonso got out ahead of Kubica. Unfortunately, disaster struck Alonso when he blew his engine, which elevated Kubica up to third.

Kubica never looked back from this moment and finished the race third, scoring his first podium in only his third F1 race.

2009 Brazilian GP

Kubica had a superb 2008 season, and during the early part of the season, he was even leading the championship at some point.

Unfortunately for him, BMW decided to shift their focus on the 2009 car and during the second part of the 2008 season, Kubica’s title challenge faltered.

Even more frustrating than the struggles of the second half of 2008 was the horrid 2009 car BMW produced. Apart from the odd race here and there, like in Australia or Belgium the BMWs were not competitive at all, and Heidfeld and Kubica had a real struggle to even score a few points, let alone fight for podiums.

When the teams arrived in Brazil, nobody expected Kubica to shine in Sao Paolo. The qualifying was held in torrential rain which produced a mixed grid, with drivers in fast cars like Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button being down in the grid.

Kubica qualified 8th on the grid, but to be honest, from what I remember, I never expected to see him move forward on the grid. Yet contrary to expectations he did just that. He profited from a messy start which saw Kimi Raikkonen drop back with a broken front wing, and Sutil and Trulli out of the race.

Barrichello was leading, but Webber was keeping in close contact, while Kubica also held his own rather well. Barrichello was not fast enough to maintain his lead and was passed by both Webber and Kubica after the first round of pit stops. Both of them pulled away from the Brazilian. Rather surprisingly, Kubica was able to keep Webber's in sight, though the Australian had a safe, if not too big gap to his rival.

In the end, Webber went on to win the race from Kubica, who scored his only podium of 2009 after a sensational drive.

2010 Belgian GP

The 2010 season was dominated by Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren. Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica were fighting to be the best of the rest.

Both were capable of occasionally mixing with the top teams, and one such occasion was the 2010 Belgian GP. Qualifying was held in mixed conditions. Kubica qualified in an impressive third place, only behind Hamilton and Webber, but in front of Vettel, Button and both Ferraris.

The start of the race was also affected by light rain, and Button moved up to the second position. Kubica remained in third after the start, but he was soon passed by Vettel for third. Vettel was all over the back of Button, but he made a mistake and hit his rival, which forced Button to retire and left Vettel a long way back.

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Kubica moved up to second and was chased by Webber for second. He succeeded in maintaining his position after the pit stops, but the rain came down again at the end of the race.

All drivers had to switch from dry tyres to wets. Webber passed Kubica during the stops and took second from his rival. Still, despite losing the fight for second, Kubica scored an impressive podium, his third one in 2010.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Kubica won one race during his F1 career.
    • True
    • False

Answer Key

  1. True

2010 Australian GP

After BMW announced that they will pull out of F1 at the end of the 2009 season, Kubica moved to Renault to replace double world champion, Fernando Alonso.

The Renault showed some potential speed at the opening race in Bahrain, but Kubica had a messy race, and in the end, finished in only 11th place.

He had a solid qualifying in the Australian GP and put his car 9th on the grid. The start of the race was wet, but the track was drying up very quickly. In an inspired move, Kubica jumped into the pits early for dry tyres and moved up to the third position.

Leader Vettel had a brake failure which forced him to retire, and Kubica was elevated to second. Kubica looked very much the rest of the best from that moment on, and although he was unable to challenge the race leader Jenson Button, he defended his second position heroically from Lewis Hamilton and had no problem in keeping behind the two Ferraris either.

2010 Monaco GP

Red Bull looked like the quickest team at the beginning of the 2010 season, but bad luck and mistakes saw them waste the potential of the car in 3 out of the first 4 races. Things looked much different in Spain, where Mark Webber looked in a different league to anyone else, and Vettel finished third also despite having a scruffy race.

Webber looked on red hot form in Monaco also, but surprisingly he was followed on the grid by Robert Kubica, who edged everyone else for a second, including Webber’s teammate. Vettel passed Kubica for second at the start and the two Red Bulls were first and second at the end of lap 1. Webber was on another planet again and easily pulled away from the rest, but Kubica was able to keep Vettel's in sight, while he also pulled away slightly from the rest. After the drivers did their mandatory pit stops, Webber was leading by 10 seconds from Vettel, who was followed closely by Kubica, who was followed by a more distant Massa and Hamilton.

The race was later interrupted by numerous SCs, but the pattern of the race remained similar. Webber usually had no problem pulling away from the rest, while Kubica was able to keep closer to Vettel and pull a small gap to the rest.

In the end, Kubica finished the race third, as the first non-Red Bull driver, a considerable achievement considering that his car was probably slightly slower than the Ferraris and McLarens.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Andrew Szekler

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