‘Nothing is impossible’: F1 driver returns to racing after almost severing right hand
One of sports great comeback stories will be completed next season as Formula One driver Robert Kubica returns to the cockpit for Williams, almost eight years after a rally crash that nearly cost him his right hand.
- Kubica suffered serious injuries to his hand as a result of a crash during a rally event in 2011
- He was a reserve driver for the Williams team this season, and will race for the team in 2019
- Kubica was rated as one of the most talented drivers of his generation prior to the accident
Kubica will return to the circuit as a driver for Williams in 2019, capping off a remarkable comeback from an accident that left him needing seven hours of surgery to repair his hand — that was partially severed when a section of barrier came through the windscreen of his car at a crash in the Ronde di Andorra rally in early 2011.
After that monumental setback, Kubica said this against-the-odds return was one of his greatest achievements.
"Being back on the F1 grid next season will be one of the greatest achievements of my life," Kubica said. "I cannot wait to get back racing."
"It's been a big challenge to get into F1. It will be an even bigger challenge from a sporting point of view to make sure I'm delivering what we're expecting from my side.
"I'm ready and excited and it gives me additional motivation and dedication to what I have been doing already this year."
The 33-year-old Polish driver was in line for a return to competitive driving this time last year, but Williams instead went for the risk averse option in offering a position as a reserve driver.
Perhaps doubts remained over Kubica's ability to use his right hand to deal with the pressures of handling a F1 car over race distances.
In the end the extra time worked out well for both parties, as Kubica instead ingratiated himself into the Williams team, assisting with development of next year's car only to emerge as the best, experienced option to partner British rookie George Russell.
The Pole, who finished on the F1 podium 12 times between 2006 and 2010, always believed that he would be able to return to top level racing.
"The only one who probably never gave up was myself and people who were around me," Kubica said.
"But we all knew that it might be something not achievable.
"This day shows that somehow nothing is impossible."
"From driving point of view, the point is very simple
"If I am not able to drive competitively fast, I will not be here."
'One of the great talents'
Kubica was widely regarded as one of the top drivers on the circuit prior to his accident, and his return has been met with great enthusiasm from some of the leading lights of the sport.
"I raced Robert from karting days. He was one of the most talented drivers I've had the pleasure of racing against," five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said.
"He had a really difficult time the last few years and it's great he's got the opportunity [to return]. I hope he works hard on his strength and getting his mind back into gear.
"It's exciting for the sport to see him back in action."
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso — who is retiring from the sport at the end of this season — was equally supportive of Kubica's return, with a caveat of how competitive the struggling Williams car will be in 2019.
"He is one the great talents the sport has had and it's great to see him back to race," Alonso said.
"It remains to be seen what will be the performance of the car and his own performance, but if he's at 100 per cent he'll be amazing to watch."
Kubica, who drove in 76 F1 races between 2006 and 2010, had previously returned to motorsport in the World Rally Championship in 2013, driving in 33 events and winning 14 stages.
Last year, Kubica told the Formula One podcast that rally driving helped make him a better driver.
"I was searching for something away from Formula 1 which would make me become a better Formula 1 driver," Kubica said.
"The desire to become even better — I was not happy to be as good as I was. I needed more. And I thought rallying would give me this. And it really gave me — the problem is I paid too high a price."
Now, Kubica is happy to be back racing in F1 after a enduring a "difficult period".
"I would like to thank everyone who has helped me during what was a difficult period of my life over these last few years," he said.
"It has been a challenging journey to make it back to the Formula One grid, but what seemed almost impossible is now possible."