Victory in Formula 1 is a dream for many drivers. Hundreds of former F1 drivers have failed to win a Grand Prix, just as just under half of the current grid have also not yet claimed a victory.
While for some it is a fantasy to win a Grand Prix, for others it is a realistic goal to go for the world title. One of those drivers was Robert Kubica, the current Alfa Romeo reserve driver.
His record includes one Grand Prix victory, but without a rallying crash in February 2011, Kubica's F1 career would undoubtedly have been very different. Partly because the Pole had already signed a contract for 2012 with Ferrari that year. However, Kubica's severe accident meant he never raced for the Scuderia.
In the hospitality of Alfa Romeo, we receive a friendly welcome during the Hungarian Grand Prix. "Sit down, Robert will be here soon", says the team's hostess. "He is still in a meeting with the engineers."
Despite it being Saturday and Kubica only being in action on the Friday during the first free practice, he is also closely involved in the process the team is going through during the race weekend towards the main event on Sunday.
Not much later, the always good-natured Kubica walks in and after some conversations about his other great passion, cycling, we soon find out about his return to Formula 1 in 2019. Indeed, cycling was an important part of his comeback to the premier class of motorsport.
Kubica reflects on 2019 F1 comeback
"After my crash in 2011, I didn't always think I would return to Formula 1, and so returning to Formula 1 at Williams was the biggest success I've ever had in my racing career," Kubica told RacingNews365.com of his 2019 comeback to the premier class of motorsport.
The Pole was given the chance to make his official return to F1 at Williams that year, and it wasn't easy due to the unwieldy car he got his hands on at the famed team.
"It was a shame that the car was not good that year, as fans have few memories of my comeback because of that," he said.
"Similarly, people forget that I was the one who managed to get a World Championship point that year, and that was no easy task with that car. I am still proud of that point scored at the German Grand Prix, it was an important moment in my racing career.
"It was the culmination of the long road I had to travel to get back into an F1 car and to get back into life at all. A moment that unfortunately very few people remember, but that is how it works in Formula 1.
"It's a pity that's the case, but on the other hand I realise that many other people can't do what I'm still doing now after the bad accident. In the end I even managed to get back into an F1 car, whereas I had to start from scratch after my accident.
"I really had to learn everything all over again, but step by step I came back and even turned down opportunities to return to Formula 1 earlier. At that moment my body was not ready and I would probably have opened many wounds again if I would have entered at that moment."
Moments that have undoubtedly been difficult in the recovery process for the Pole, as, after all, every driver wants to race in Formula 1: "Of course it's great to drive an F1 car, but you have to be ready for it. Like now I can do my job for Alfa Romeo and it is fantastic to drive that car.
"However, there is very little time to drive as there is no longer unlimited testing as there used to be. Therefore, it is not easy to drive now, because sometimes you don't drive an F1 car for months and then suddenly you get the chance again in a free practice session. But I still do well and I enjoy it every time."
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The challenge of watching other drivers race
Being on the sidelines can still prove challenging for Kubica.
"At the same time it is not easy to watch the other drivers race," he explained.
"Especially because sometimes I am as fast as other drivers or even faster than them. I would really like to drive another season in Formula 1, but realistically I won't be able to, even though I showed in the worst situation ever that you can always make a comeback."
Kubica feels that, had the 2019 Williams that he made his return with been a stronger car, he could still be on the grid today.
"The year at Williams was just very difficult and that made it difficult for me to continue my racing career in Formula 1,' the Pole added.
"If I had had a good car back then, I would undoubtedly still be racing in F1, but unfortunately it doesn't work like that in Formula 1. It's a very hard world, as any top sport is, but from my personal experience I can say that my return to F1 was my biggest success ever during my racing career.
"Something that will probably not be agreed by the F1 fans, they will say I was unbelievably bad in 2019."
Kubica proud of point scored in 2019
Kubica remains proud of his return to Formula 1, even if it didn't go the way that he had hoped.
"Personally, I know better than anyone how hard it was for me to return to motorsport and life as a whole," he stated.
"It was a tough ride, one that no one but myself will ever truly understand, so it will remain an eternal memory for me. Let's face it, I was closer to death than I was to life during those years. I know how that felt and those hard moments made me even stronger.
"At the same time, it also made you appreciate life a lot more. Negative moments I can now put aside much quicker because of what I went through."
Kubica's teammate at Williams during his comeback was George Russell, who was competing in his rookie campaign. It was Kubica who scored the team's sole point of the year.
"In a way, the crash has made my life better, because you become much more aware of life. At the same time, it's a shame that the F1 world didn't appreciate my return and the World Championship point I scored," Kubica continued.
"I felt I wasn't the one who should have got that point."
"I did not get the recognition I deserved"
Looking back now, Kubica feels that he did not get enough credit for what he achieved on his return to Formula 1.
"That World Championship point was very important to me because it was a very big moment after the road I had travelled to get back into the premier class of motorsport," he reflected.
"Unfortunately, people forget that
moment very quickly, partly because [other drivers] were disqualified
and I took the point.
"However, that does not take anything
away from my achievement. Like so many other top athletes, I did not get
the recognition I deserved. I myself look at top athletes in a very
"For me, a cyclist who finishes last is still a
f***ing great sportsman, for whom I have a lot of respect. No one can
see what he/she is going through, but he/she travels the same road as
the winner and will therefore always have the greatest respect from me.
"Just like every top athlete gets it from me, because every athlete has his own story."
Kubica admits the F1 world moves "so incredibly fast"
"I know what it is like to be a top athlete and it is a shame that people only look at the results," Kubica said.
"As a top athlete you shouldn't only look at your own results, you should keep seeing the big picture. You need some luck, especially in Formula 1, because talent alone will not get you there.
"It's a pity that people in the paddock don't always see that, but I do understand it. The F1 world moves so incredibly fast that people in Formula 1 lose touch with reality because of all the work they have to do."
The always friendly and at the same time outspoken Kubica then concluded: "Only when you finish your F1 career will you see how much the sport has given you, but at the same time how much it has demanded of you, and that is a lot, I can tell you."
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