Formula 1

Kubica to leave Williams at the end of 2019

After the adversity should come the triumph

He may have only scored one point after running within the top 10 for just one lap during the 2019 Formula 1 season so far, but Robert Kubica’s comeback remains one of sport’s most remarkable recoveries.

Credit: RoKiT Williams Racing

In many ways, the extent of his injuries suffered in a 2011 rally accident and subsequent journey back to the top echelon of motorsport make today’s announcement even more admirable. Kubica will not seek another season at Williams, instead opting to leave the team at the end of 2019 in search of an opportunity for a race seat in another category.

Kubica has been strongly linked to a potential DTM drive, with Autosport reporting that the one-time grand prix winner’s management team have held talks with Audi boss Dieter Gass.

Assuming that either a DTM drive – or any competitive drive in another category – becomes available, Kubica’s almost unquestionably made the right decision in turning his back on a potential Williams renewal.

Williams is currently mired at the back of the grid, in a year in which it was late to pre-season testing, has never reached Q2 with either car and only scored one point – gifted after both Alfa Romeos were disqualified in the German Grand Prix.

Amongst the challenges, Kubica has found himself in a no-win situation against rookie team-mate and Formula 2 champion George Russell. In the event that he outraces the highly-rated Mercedes junior Russell – a feat Kubica’s only managed twice this year – it’s while arguing over who finishes in second-from-last place. Hardly a shop window to showcase talent and experience.

Law of diminishing returns makes Kubica’s chances against Russell slimmer and slimmer as time goes by. One driver is growing into their F1 career while the other is a veteran, albeit with a history to defy convention. The scales are likely to only tip further from Kubica’s favour.

While 21-year-old Russell can afford a couple of seasons growing into F1 at the tail end of the midfield, 34-year-old Kubica is not in line for a similar Mercedes-shaped scoop to make the struggles worthwhile. There is zero value in wasting time in a struggling outfit for Kubica.

I want to see a motivated Kubica challenging for victories and podiums in a highly competitive series, earning the silverware he deserves following his heroic recovery. After the adversity should come the triumph.

It’s brilliant that Kubica was able to return to F1 and heartbreaking that he did not have an opportunity to resolve the unfinished business at the pinnacle of the game.

BUT, I’d much rather see Kubica celebrating a win in DTM – even a podium in DTM – versus a glorious, hard-fought Q2 appearance in F1.

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Red Bull promotes Albon for the next chapter of a Hollywood story

Alexander Albon’s whirlwind 18 months in which he’s both a begged for a seat and turned his back on a manufacturer drive, has culminated in a promotion to one of Formula 1’s elite teams just 12 races into his F1 career.

Peter Fox (Getty

Peter Fox (Getty)

Albon will replace the struggling Pierre Gasly at Red Bull from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards. Gasly, who has failed to score a podium in his 12 races since being promoted to Red Bull, will return to Toro Rosso in a straight seat swap.

The circumstances by which Albon has found himself in this position are remarkable. Hollywood take note, depending on how the next few months and years go, you could have a blockbuster retelling on your hands.

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Why F1 is set to reward the wrong fastest laps in 2019

The last time Formula 1 introduced a major sporting regulation change in the two weeks leading up to the first race of the season, it didn’t go too well.

In 2016, F1 delivered a new qualifying package with an elimination format. Forecast to fail by engineers, the concept was quickly dropped after just two races and the old system was swiftly reinstated.

This developing story is hardly of the same scale as changing the qualifying format, but it is the prospect of a rather surprising change to the rules that is once again being added in winter’s 11th hour.

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Video: Ferrari and Mercedes separated by 0.003s on final day of testing

Sebastian Vettel may have topped the timesheet on the final day of Formula 1 pre-season testing, but Mercedes claimed the day four headlines.

After two weeks of disciplined data gathering, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas unlocked performance from the W10, ending up second and third on the timesheet – Hamilton just 0.003s adrift of Vettel’s benchmark.

Here is a round-up of all the main storylines from the final day of pre-season testing.

 

Video: Ferrari bounces back as Leclerc sets fastest time of testing

Charles Leclerc propelled Ferrari back to the top of the Formula 1 testing timesheet, with a benchmark just 0.006 seconds slower than Lewis Hamilton’s 2018 Spanish Grand Prix pole time.

Meanwhile, speculation swells regarding the prospect of Mercedes running two concepts for their W10 during the season…

Here is a round-up of the major stories on the penultimate day of 2019 pre-season testing.

Video: Vettel crashes while McLaren tops the timesheet again

Carlos Sainz Jr topped the timesheet for McLaren on the second day of the second pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona.

However, the big story of the day concerned Ferrari after Sebastian Vettel was pitched into the barriers by a mechanical failure in the morning.

The proposed 2019 front-runners lost the majority of the day to the follow up investigation.

Here is a full review of each and every team’s day.

Video: Norris fastest as Mercedes hits issues

McLaren rookie Lando Norris was fastest on the first day of the second Formula 1 pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona, despite finding reliability issues.

Equipped with the C5 tyres – the softest compound in Pirelli’s range – Norris posted a 1m17.709s time to edge Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly off of top spot.

Soon after vaulting to the top of the times, Norris stopped on track for the second time in the day. The first was caused by a hydraulic problem on the MCL34 before lunch.

Both Ferrari and Mercedes’ mileage was hampered, as the Scuderia completed cooling checks in the morning, while Valtteri Bottas stopped on track with an oil pressure problem after just one lap at the start of the afternoon session.

Here is a full round up of how all 10 teams fared on the first day of the second test.