Could Kubica’s return be over before it’s begun? Trouble with Williams car STILL not being tested means rocky start for F1 champ
Troubling news keep on coming from the Formula 1 Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya track, where the teams are testing their cars for the upcoming season.
ROKiT Williams Racing is yet to complete their vehicle for this season, losing priceless time on the track and putting in question the biggest comeback of this season – Robert Kubica returning to F1 after his 2011 grievous crash and injury.
It seemed almost like a fairy-tale, that after crashing in the Ronde di Andora rally and having his right arm almost severed, he would be able to recover and come back to F1 racing. Yet the dream became reality, with last year’s signing to Williams Racing, alongside George Russell.
Now dark clouds are gathering once again, since Williams are experiencing serious setbacks with delivering their brand new racing car FW42.
While the other teams are well underway with their tests, Kubica’s car is still in the factory in Grove, UK, losing at least two days of crucial testing on a race track.
Yesterday’s official statement from Claire Williams, the Deputy Team Principal, read: “It is looking more likely than not that we will now not be in a position to run on track until Wednesday at the earliest.
“This is obviously extremely disappointing, but it is unfortunately the situation we are in. We will be getting the FW42 on track as soon as we are able.”
Tomasz Krzemiński, a Formula 3 racing driver and instructor told TFN: “How crucial these test days were, we will learn during the season, but it certainly isn’t good to lose them, since there are so few.
“Of course, simulators and computer simulations, wind tunnels and so on are of great importance and many things can be prepared without driving on the track.
”They will have to observe the car throughout the whole season, since, for example, in Australia the results will be quite good, it will turn out that the rack matches the cars configuration, but over the course of the season it can have a greater impact on the general condition.
“Formula 1 is unpredictable and there are many purely random factors deciding how the particular circuit will work for a given car. It may turn out that these two days were very important.”
The bad streak has been haunting Williams for a while. One of the most successful teams in F1’s history, in 2018 they gathered only seven points and were last in the constructors ranking. The poor results led to engineer Rob Smedley, head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer and chief designer Ed Wood leaving the team. If gossip is to be believed, Paddy Low, the current chief technical officer will soon follow suit.
The remedy to the technical and organizational issues lie in the newly signed drivers.
“They are trying to get back on their feet, so they went with good, talented drivers. Very good even, as Kubica and Russell are a strong line up, which can counterbalance the not yet functional technical and organizational structures,” Krzemiński said.
He added: “It may turn out that in some races Williams will prove a surprise. We need to remember, that Kubica has this unique talent and his spark can help achieve better results, than it would seem possible. And his teammate George Russel is also an incredibly talented driver who can achieve unexpected results.”
Another angle to hiring Kubica was his ability to contribute to the technical side of the cars construction, well beyond what is usually expected from the driver.
Krzemiński said: “The times when drivers had to sit in the car for so long and develop it on the track have passed. Now it's just an enormous engineering machine, a lot of calculations and models. But for sure if it's a driver like Robert Kubica, it is also his advantage, as we saw already in the previous season, when they worked on this car, that he certainly had a significant contribution, as much as the driver can have.
“For sure Kubica was hired by Williams to help them develop the car. It was common knowledge for a long time, that he has the knowledge and an incredible intuition of the race car and its most important settings.”
The testing in Barcelona is conducted in two rounds – four days this week and four days the next. Hopefully, William’s FW42 will appear on the track soon, as it is supposed to debut on March 17th in Melbourne, Australia, kicking off the 2019 Formula One season.
“It’s hard to predict what will happen, a lot of information is concealed and there are politics involved as well. (…) We must remember, that this is a very specific sport.
“A lot depends on the car and the team, but also on the driver. The work they do is extremely hard, it’s easy to make mistakes, because when you drive the car with such advanced aerodynamics, you are always on a very thin line,” concluded Krzemiński.