He’s back! Kubica returns to Formula 1 seven years after horror crash

The 33-year old announced on November 22 that he had signed for Williams for the 2019 season, and will partner George Russell as the team’s drivers. /PAP/EPA

Racing driver Robert Kubica is to return to Formula 1 seven years after a near-fatal high-speed crash left him with a severely damaged right hand that still has only limited movement.

The 33-year old announced on November 22 that he had signed for Williams for the 2019 season, and will partner George Russell as the team’s drivers.

Kubica had been working as the Williams’ test driver.

His return to competitive racing comes as a remarkable comeback for Kubica whose career as a racing driver almost came to an end in 2011 when his rally car smashed into a barrier during Ronde di Andora in Italy.Grzegorz Momot/PAP

His return to competitive racing comes as a remarkable comeback for Kubica whose career as a racing driver almost came to an end in 2011 when his rally car smashed into a barrier during Ronde di Andora in Italy.

The crash almost severed his right arm and doctors feared at one point they would have to amputate.

Although they managed to save the arm in the end, the accident left his hand weakened and lacking movement, which makes it hard for him to grip a steering wheel.

Claire Williams, one of the team’s managers, said: “It is a great credit to his strength of character and tenacity to return to Formula 1. He has a level of determination that is remarkable to see.PAP/EPA

“Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has helped me during what was a difficult period of my life over these last few years,” said Kubica at a press conference. “It has been a challenging journey to make it back to the Formula 1 grid, but what seemed almost impossible is now beginning to feel possible, as I am excited to be able to say that I will be on the Formula 1 grid in 2019.

“For sure, it has been a long road to get to this point, but as that challenge now comes to an end with this announcement, a new challenge begins working with Williams on track,” he continued. “It will not be easy, but with hard work and dedication, both George and myself will work together to try and help the team get in better shape to move further up the grid. This year has been tough, but I have learnt a lot, and I’d like to thank Sir Frank [Williams] and Claire [Williams] for this opportunity.”

Claire Williams, one of the team’s managers, said: “It is a great credit to his strength of character and tenacity to return to Formula 1. He has a level of determination that is remarkable to see.

At a press conference the racing ace said: “It has been a challenging journey to make it back to the Formula 1 grid, but what seemed almost impossible is now beginning to feel possible, as I am excited to be able to say that I will be on the Formula 1 grid in 2019.Tytus Żmijewski/PAP

Kubica first drove in a Formula 1 race in a BMW-Sauber car, and has his most successful season in 2008 when he finished fourth in the world championship. After a brief time with Renault in 2010 he left Formula 1 to concentrate on rally driving.

Despite his crash, in 2013 he drove for Citroen in 11 rally races, but always harboured a dream about returning to Formula 1.

"He's one of the two fastest drivers I've seen in my life," says Nico Rosberg, a former Formula 1 driver who has helped Kubica, adding that a “return would be a great story” because he’s good at driving.