The F1 field has never been more competitive. With the 2012 season featuring 8 different winners from 6 different teams, it would be hard to envision a grid that includes F1’s forgotten man, Robert Kubica.
For those of you who don’t know, Robert Kubica was severely injured in a rally race prior to the start of the 2011 Formula One season. At the time he was all set to lead the assault for the then Renault team. After almost 2 years of recuperating, Kubica recently came out in an interview to proclaim he was far from ready to make a return to Formula One.
There is no doubting his ability behind the wheel. In the 2008 season he was championship contender (albeit the long shot). He was widely regarded as a potential world champion by many in the F1 fraternity and it almost a travesty that he has not had a chance to come good on that initial promise. Though he has been contesting a few rallies, Formula One remains a different challenge altogether.
However assuming he does eventually regain his fitness, the question arises as to which team would he sign for? Mclaren and Mercedes have drivers committed for the foreseeable future but Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus may have vacancies at the start of 2014. But would one of the front running teams sign him? Ferrari was the most viable destination till Massa raised his game. Another snag with a move to Ferrari will be Alonso’s insistence that he is the lead driver within the team. Coming to Red Bull, though Webber has only a one year contract, it unlikely that he will retire anytime soon, though he is 36, Webber remains one of the fittest drivers on the grid. The final option Lotus could represent the likeliest destination for Kubica. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean have one year contracts with the team. But with Kimi’s comeback proving a massive success and Grosjean displaying flashes of pace, a lot would have to wrong for this move to occur. Another factor worth considering is the fact that team boss Eric Boullier and Kubica has a sort of falling out prior to the 2012 season. Given the circumstances a move to Lotus may not seem all that likely.
Other teams like Williams and Sauber would be more than happy to have him. But with Sauber committing themselves to Nico Hulkenberg and Willaims seeking drivers who bring sponsorship, neither would be able to accommodate his wage demands. A move to either of these teams at this stage would represent a step down for the former championship contender.
In the end unless there is a significant shakeup in the driver market, the man from Poland may find himself on the sidelines for a couple of more years at best.