Formula One poorer for Kubica’s absence

Mat Coch Roar Guru

By Mat Coch, Mat Coch is a Roar Guru

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    Robert Kubica has confessed, for the first time, that he may never return to Formula One.

    The popular Pole was injured in a rally crash leading up to the 2011 Formula One season from which he was lucky not to lose his right arm.

    At the time common thought was he would return to the Lotus cockpit by mid-season, but that came and went without so much as a word from the Kubica camp.

    In late 2011 there was word he’d been testing a rally car near Genoa in Italy, however it was not until September 2012 that he finally made his competitive motorsport return in a low-level rally in Italy. Naturally, he won.

    It rekindled hope that the 28-year-old could return to Formula One, hopes that have since been unequivocally quashed. His injured arm has simply not recovered, and while he can drive a saloon (or rally) car the confines of a single seater are simply too restrictive.

    Kubica’s Formula One career, it would seem, is over. And it had only just begun.

    Of course Kubica is not the first talent the sport has lost before reaching their full potential. During the 1960s drivers were regularly killed.

    The sport was a different monster back then, more dangerous and brutal – every driver had a funeral suit in the wardrobe.

    Kubica is the first in the modern age to have his promising career cut short, leaving us with just a glimpse of his immense talent.

    The last to befall a similar fate was Alessandro Nannini, who showed promise for Benetton before a helicopter accident inflicted similar injuries to Kubica’s.

    Nannini, the record books will show, won the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix – the one in which Ayrton Senna crossed the line first to keep his championship hopes alive after an altercation with Prost before being controversially disqualified. It was the talented Italian’s sole grand prix win.

    One can exclude Senna from this discussion because he had won three world championships by the time of his death; his ability is widely celebrated.

    Ironically, it was Senna’s talent which masked perhaps the most naturally gifted driver of his generation.

    At Monaco in 1984 Senna was closing on race leader Prost hand over fist. He was driving the unfancied Toleman; a heavy, under-powered lump of a Formula One car. Behind him and closing in was Stefan Bellof.

    Bellof was killed in a sports car accident at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in 1985 during a time when drivers often moonlighted in endurance racing.

    The immensely talented German holds the lap record around the Nordschlieffe, setting it at the wheel of a Porsche 956 in 1983.

    His career was fleeting but showed him to be an incredible talent; one taken before he could show his true potential.

    He had the hallmarks of a world champion in the making, someone who could give Senna a run for his money as the 1980s drew to a close, but that was never to be.

    Kubica has admitted he may never return to Formula One. Like so many talented drivers before him we have been robbed of a potential great, a driver with genuine superstar qualities, and a nice guy to boot.

    The loss of Kubica from Formula One, like that of Bellof and so many others before him, leaves us all the poorer.

    The only consolation is he’s not gone entirely, and for that at least we should be very, very thankful.

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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • Roar Pro

      December 11th 2012 @ 7:46pm
      Ryan Eckford said | December 11th 2012 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

      Such a shame. Probably one of the best drivers never to win a world championship, even though his record may not suggest this. If BMW Sauber had decided to continue development in 2008, Kubica might have been a world champion.

      • Roar Guru

        December 11th 2012 @ 10:48pm
        Mark Young said | December 11th 2012 @ 10:48pm | ! Report

        Agreed Ryan, he was a heck of a driver.

        Can you imagine him and Raikkonen in the same team? Wowsers!

        I suspect that Mat is right, if he was going to return, he would have done it by now and we have probably lost him.

        Our loss 🙁

        • Roar Guru

          December 17th 2012 @ 11:01am
          Mat Coch said | December 17th 2012 @ 11:01am | ! Report

          One suspects he won’t make an F1 return, however I fully expect to see him at Le Mans in a few years.

          Rallying, I’m not sure. There’s such a steep learning curve and he’s a long way behind the likes of Solberg or whatever in terms of experience. If anyone can it’s probably Kubica, but I’d imagine he’d be a tarmac specialist.

          That’s why I expect he’ll switch to WEC.

    • Roar Guru

      December 11th 2012 @ 10:50pm
      Mark Young said | December 11th 2012 @ 10:50pm | ! Report

      Another great read Mat, thanks!

      Another name to throw in there is Johnny Herbert, who I know had a fairly reasonable career and won a race for Stewart, but his career took a massive hit when his legs were destroyed in early 1989 (I think?) and it really cut his ability.

      Still, It makes me pretty subdued when I realise that Bobby K ain’t coming back. I always had dreams of watching him, Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso fight it out up front.

      • Roar Guru

        December 17th 2012 @ 11:04am
        Mat Coch said | December 17th 2012 @ 11:04am | ! Report

        Johnny had an awful shunt at Brands Hatch and shattered both legs in late 1989 (I’d have to check to confirm, but I’m sure you’re right). He still walks with a limp, as does Martin Brundle, for that matter. Foot protection was not what it is now.

        Herbert won three Grands Prix; the ‘European’ GP for Stewart in 1999, but also the 1995 British and Italian Grands Prix.

        He was an immense talent. I don’t think he’d have ever been world champion, but a strong driver in the Mark Webber mould; gritty and determined but lacking that little something extra, whatever that extra something is that makes world champions.

    • December 12th 2012 @ 9:01am
      Frankie Hughes said | December 12th 2012 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      I was gutted when Kubica got injured and basically ended his F1 career.

      It was an open secret that he had a Ferrari contract for 2012.

      It would’ve been great to see Alonso and Kubica in the same team.

      Both guys are close friends, more like brothers.

      I wish Robert all the best in WRC or where ever he ends up.

      • Roar Guru

        December 17th 2012 @ 11:06am
        Mat Coch said | December 17th 2012 @ 11:06am | ! Report

        Robert is an amazing guy; genuinely nice.

        The other drivers miss the competition on track, but probably less so in their poker games. Word has it he is rather good.

    • December 13th 2012 @ 2:13am
      Damon said | December 13th 2012 @ 2:13am | ! Report

      all the best Robert. we miss you so much in f1 :((

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