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Biography

SEASON INFORMATION
15/08/2013

 

Biography

 

On December 1, 2005, Robert Kubica became the first Pole to drive a Formula One car in anger, having been given a test by the Renault, part of his reward for winning the 2005 World Series by Renault.

Less than three weeks later, days after his twenty-first birthday, he was confirmed as third driver for the BMW Sauber F1 Team in 2006, supporting regulars, Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve.

Inevitably, Robert's racing career began in karts, aged six, and by the age of ten he was Polish champion.

In 1998 he became the first non-Italian to win the prestigious Italian Junior Kart Championship, in addition to finishing second in the European Kart Championship.

In 2001 and 2002 Robert competed in the Italian Formula Renault series and the Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup, finishing runner up in the Italian series in 2002.

2003 marked his debut in the Formula 3 Euro Series, famously winning his maiden race (Norisring). He also contested two rounds of the British F3 series.

In 2005 he represented the Spanish team, Epsilon Euskadi, in the 3.5 litre V6 World Series by Renault. With four wins, and a total of 154 points, Robert romped away with the title ahead of Adrian Valles and Markus Winkelhock.

Announcing Robert's signing as BMW's third driver, Mario Theissen said: "We have been following Robert's progress and are very impressed by his performance in recent years. He has worked hard to achieve his success without major support. We are convinced that he has the potential and the will to make the leap into Formula One and are delighted to be able to give him the opportunity to do so."

Sure enough, in the Friday practice sessions Robert was usually the pace-setter, and it wasn't long before the young Pole was being tipped as a future star.

Robert looked set to get his big break following Jacques Villeneuve's heavy crash at Hockenheim, though few realised at the time that the incident signalled the end of one (F1) career and the beginning of another.

With the Hungarian Grand Prix due to take place one week later, when Villeneuve revealed that he was still suffering headaches Robert was drafted in to partner Nick Heidfeld. The rest, as they say is history.

For a while it looked as though the young Pole had joined that elite club of Grand Prix racers to score a point in their maiden race, having brought the BMW home in eight. However, when the car was subsequently found to be underweight - though no fault of the driver - Robert was disqualified. Kubica had not only out-qualified his experienced teammate, the youngster brought the car home in one piece, surviving two major spins in difficult conditions.

Villeneuve was subsequently dropped by the Bavarian team and Formula One welcomed a driver who will lead to many headlines involving atrocious puns in the coming years.

However, a convincing performance just two races later, at Monza, saw the Pole score his first ever F1 podium, equalling BMW's previous best result in its maiden season, Heidfeld's third in Hungary.

It came as no surprise when BMW announced that it had retained Robert for 2007, Mario Theissen fully aware that he has a serious talent on his hands.

Despite the package at his disposal, witness teammate Nick Heidfeld's results, Robert made what can only be described as a "hesitant" start to the season. However, after a points finish in Bahrain he was fully in his stride by Spain and again in Monaco.

In Canada however, just as it appeared that Robert was about to take on 'Quick Nick' for the mantle of the 'best of the rest', there was one of those moments when one can only look on open-mouthed, a lump rising rapidly in the throat. It was a misunderstanding, nothing more, which saw the young Pole attempt to go around the outside of Jarno Trulli but lose control. The car veered across the track and hit the outside wall with a sickening thud, then barrel rolled down the track.

For a while, especially with no visible signs of movement within the car, F1 held its breath. However, finally there was movement, and within minutes he was extracted (fully conscious) from the car and taken to the medical centre. Within 24-hours the Pole was back on his feet, and three days later he was pleading with officials to let him race at Indianapolis - they refused his request.

Despite missing the Unites States Grand Prix - where he was replaced by Sebastian Vettel, another youngster to make an immediate impression in F1 - Robert was back in action in France, where he began another string of points winning finishes.

One tends to forget that to all intents and purposes, 2007 was Robert's rookie season, and though he never came close to emulating Lewis Hamilton's achievements it was pretty impressive. Unlike Heidfeld, he didn't make it to the podium, however, there were three fourth-place finishes.

2008 was a frustrating year for Robert, not because he didn't do well (he did), but because he didn't do better. And in all honesty the blame for that lies with BMW.

While Hamilton, Massa, Alonso and Vettel got all the headlines, it was Robert who was consistently impressive, from his qualifying session in Melbourne right up to Brazil, where it was clear that his team had given up on 2008 and was looking ahead to 2009.

Apart from a car that was highly sensitive and had the smallest of windows - in terms of optimum tyre performance - Robert had to contend with a team that appeared to divide its time between worrying about how best it could aid his teammate in his quest to improve in qualifying, and its 2009 car. No wonder that at times the Pole found it difficult to keep his frustration to himself.

The highlight of his season was the win in Canada, and though he benefited from the pitlane melee invoked by Lewis Hamilton, Robert had to drive the race of his life in order to make up the necessary 24-seconds needed in order to make his second pit stop - teammate Nick Heidfeld being on a one-stopper. Under pressure from Alonso also, the Pole emerged from his second stop just one second ahead of his BMW teammate.

What made the Montreal win even more magical however, was the fact that this was the circuit where, just a year earlier, Robert had crashed so heavily, so horribly, causing all of our hearts to miss a beat. It takes a special talent to return in such awesome style.

There were many other great performances, most notably Monaco and Japan, together with his pole winning lap in Bahrain.

Having led the championship earlier in the season, Robert left Japan with the title still in his sights, indeed, the deficit was less than that overcome by Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.

However, by this stage in the season, BMW had essentially given up on development of the F1.08, instead focussing on the F1.09. Consequently, whereas Robert had been able to snap at the heels of the McLaren and Ferrari earlier in the season, he was now unable to hold off the Renault, Toyota and even the Toro Rosso.

The young Pole eventually finished fourth in the championship, tied with Raikkonen, though the two drivers' performances over the course of the year could not be more different… indifferent in the Finn's case some might say.

With BMW one of the first teams to get to work on its 2009 contender it's fair to say that Robert went into the new season feeling fairly confident. How wrong he was.

Despite the fact that BMW was the first team to run a car under the new rules, the German manufacturer, in its eagerness to adopt the raft of new regulations, missed out on one vital component, the double diffuser. Consequently, like its rivals the team had to head back to the drawing board.

Unfortunately, by the time the Munich team had produced a competitive package not only was the season almost over, its parent company had already decided to pull the plug.

A bad car, the odd mistake and some bad luck meant that it wasn't until Turkey - the seventh race of the season - that Robert opened his points account.

Having qualified fourth in Australia the Pole was looking good for a points finish until a silly incident involving Vettel brought his race to an early end. The German was subsequently deemed responsible and handed a ten-place grid penalty for the following race.

In China and again in Bahrain BMW suffered badly, for the first time in as long as anyone could remember neither driver finished in the top ten.

Despite having a heavily updated car in time for Spain, a mistake by his pit crew in Q3 saw the Pole qualify tenth, while a bad start the following day meant another race without points.

In Turkey, now with a double diffuser on the F1.09, Robert finally finished in the points however, it was to be another four races (Europe) before he added to his tally. A fine fourth in Belgium was followed, a few weeks later, by eighth place in Singapore, the Pole, who spent the closing stages of the race holding off holding off Nakajima and Raikkonen, subsequently describing it as "the most difficult point I have ever scored".

With BMW having announced that it was leaving the sport, and a one-year deal with Renault in his pocket, Robert might have been forgiven for easing off in the final races of the season however, in Brazil he produced one of his best performances ever, pushing race winner Mark Webber all the way to the chequered flag to take a magnificent second.

The others may get the headlines, but Robert, when the gods allow, gets the kudos. While the one-year deal with Renault seemed odd to some, to others it made perfect sense. Concerned at the buy-out of the French team by Genii Capital, Robert was sure to keep an eye on how things developed, very much a potential champion he does not want to waste time with a team content to merely make up the numbers.

Over the winter the team carried out an upgrade of its windtunnel - replacing the canvas rolling road with a steel version. While the four-week shutdown of the windtunnel cost it as much as half-a-second in the early stages of the season, in time the benefits were clearly visible. And although comparatively late in introducing its version of the F-duct and blown diffuser, when they did appear they were effective and as the season developed, so the car improved with most of the attention focussing on the front wing and floor… of which there were countless versions.

Overall, the R30's main strength was its drivability, something that made Robert extremely happy especially at recognised 'drivers tracks' such as Monaco, Spa and Suzuka. Then again, Robert rarely gave less than 100 percent, not for nothing was the likeable Pole rated 5th in the Autocourse Top Ten and 6th in Pitpass' version.

Missing out on a points finish in Bahrain after being clouted by Adrian Sutil, Robert finished a magnificent second in Melbourne. Fourth in Malaysia was followed by a seventh in China, the Pole adamant that had it not been for the Safety Car a podium finish was in the offing.

Eighth in Spain was relatively disappointing, but he followed this up by putting the Renault on the front row in Monaco and subsequently finishing third behind the all-conquering Red Bulls.

Frustrated by Nico Rosberg in Turkey, Robert continued to tuck the points away, though retirements in Britain (driveshaft) and Hungary (accident) were frustrating. That said, the Pole enjoyed a good scrap with Fernando Alonso at Silverstone, the Spanird having to illegally cut a corner in order to pass the Renault. While Robert retired shortly after, at least he had the satisfaction of seeing the Ferrari driver serve a drive through, a penalty taken with the grace for which he is noted.

A driver's driver in a driveable car on a driver's circuit, it came as no surprise that Robert raised his game ever higher at Spa, qualifying third and holding on to the position next day. Had it not been for a botched pit stop - he overran his slot - the Pole could well have finished second.

A typically bullish performance in Singapore saw him finish seventh, despite a puncture which dropped him back down the field. His subsequent fight back, not easy on a street track, was one of the highlights of the season.

At Suzuka, another driver's track, Robert was looking awesome. Having qualified fourth, he was shadowing Vettel, having passed Webber at the start, when he suffered a problem behind the Safety Car, subsequently losing a wheel.

Taking fifth in both Korea and Abu Dhabi, Robert ended the season 8th in the Drivers' Championship having provided his team with 136 of its 163 points.

During the course of the season there was speculation linking the Pole with Ferrari, but not long after it was announced that he had secured a new two-year deal with Renault. While, like most drivers, Robert would love to drive one of the scarlet cars, we're sure he will want to do it when he can be assured of absolute parity with the guy across the garage, and judging by the events of 2010 at the Maranello outfit that is not going to happen anytime soon.

Just three days after posting the fastest time of the first pre-season test in Valencia, Robert was injured in a horrific accident whilst taking part in a rally in Italy. For 48 hours the F1 world held its breath as the Pole underwent a series of operations to save his right hand. Several days later he underwent a further nine hours of surgery to his foot, shoulder, humerus, and anterior elbow.

It was subsequently confirmed Robert had suffered partial amputation of his forearm, compound fractures to his right elbow, shoulder and leg, as well as a significant loss of blood.

The severity of the injuries were the result of a crash barrier penetrating the car's cockpit and hitting Robert, while leaving his co-driver unscathed.

Robert was released from hospital to begin his rehabilitation on 24 April, and in the months that followed there were conflicting reports from his manager, Daniele Morelli, Renault team boss, Eric Boullier and the doctors as to his progress.

While it was clear that Robert was out as far as the 2011 season was concerned, in November Renault ruled out the Pole for the start of the 2012 season., subsequently announcing that they had secured the services of Kimi Raikkonen.

On 11 January 2012, now out of contract with Renault and therefore a free agent, Robert slipped on ice whilst walking near his home in Italy and broke his right leg in exactly the same spot it had been broken eleven months earlier.

Statistics - at the end of 2010 Season

Drivers' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 5
Grand Prix: 76
Wins: 1
Points: 273
Poles: 1
Fastest Laps: 1

Best result in 2010: 2nd (Australia)
Best qualifying 2010: 2nd (Monaco)
Worst qualifying 2010: 11th (Abu Dhabi)
2010: Out-qualified Vitaly Petrov 17 times
2010: Out-qualified by Vitaly Petrov 2 times

2010: Completed 996 out of 1129 laps (88.2%)
2010: Finished 16 times from 19 starts (84%)

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