Pole position: Kubica signs for Alfa Romeo F1 team in landmark deal

Kubica will be reserve driver for Alfa Romeo next season. Tytus Żmijewski/PAP

Motor-racing star Robert Kubica will join the Alfa Romeo F1 team for the 2020 season in a deal that also means PKN Orlen will become a main sponsor of the famous Italian team.

Orlen, which is Poland's biggest petroleum company, announced the move on Wednesday. 

The firm’s logo will be the main element of the vehicle and suit branding and the conglomerate's name will be used in Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen’s official communication.

The 35-year-old driver is the first Pole to compete in F1.DIEGO AZUBEL/PAP/EPA

Kubica became the first Pole to drive in Formula 1 when he joined the BMW Sauber team in 2006. In 2011 he was involved in a near-fatal crash during a rally race, which also shattered his right hand. 

He eventually returned to F1 racing, driving for Williams in the 2019 season.

A 2011 rally crash left him with permanent damage to his right arm.SRDJAN SUKI/PAP/EPA

“I am really happy to be starting this new chapter in my career as I join Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen,” Kubica was quoted as saying in a statement published on the Sauber Group website. “This team holds a special place in my heart and I am pleased to see some faces still here from my years in Hinwil. Time and circumstances are obviously different, but I am convinced that I will find the same determination and hunger to succeed. I am looking forward to helping Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen make the next step forward.”

Orlen was quick to praise Kubica’s move and welcomed the new opportunities the Alfa Romeo deal presents the firm. 

He returned to F1 and last season drove for Williams.DIEGO AZUBEL/PAP/EPA

"In sport as in business, consistency is crucial. When last year we supported the return of Robert Kubica to Formula 1, we knew that we were creating history in sport, but we were also opening a new chapter in the history of ORLEN brand," Orlen’s CEO Daniel Obajtek was cited as saying.

Obajtek also said Orlen's brand recognition had significantly increased over the last year due to the company's sponsorship of Kubica. 

When last year we supported the return of Robert Kubica to Formula 1, we knew that we were creating history in sport,” says Orlen’s CEO Daniel Obajtek.Rafał Guz/PAP

PKN Orlen and the team will also cooperate in organising youth driver training, to be run by Sauber Motorsport, according to the company's statement.

Italy's Antonio Giovinazzi and Finland's Kimi Raikkonen will remain Alfa Romeo's main drivers, while Kubica will act as reserve driver.