Poland’s Robert Kubica yesterday completed his first day of circuit testing since sustaining serious injuries in a rally crash in February 2011. Kubica drove a DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain, and reported afterwards that his day had gone well.
Robert Kubica: “My first day of testing in a DTM car was great fun and I learned a lot about the series and the DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé. The first installation lap was in the dry, then a few heavy showers of rain came down and we had to wait for the track to dry out. All in all, it was a good experience, getting to know the car in different weather conditions. I was able to get to grips with the DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé and felt very comfortable in the car, even though after my long break it meant adjusting to the high downforce that a state-of-the art DTM race car produces. I’m very pleased with my performance on this first day of DTM testing and had no problems whatsoever in the car.”
During a day that was interrupted by early showers, Kubica completed 114 laps of the circuit, equivalent to 456.570 kilometres, which is approximately one and a half Formula One race distances and comfortably more than two DTM race distances. Mercedes did not quote lap times in their press release, but a Polish source suggested that Kubica’s times were within a few tenths of experienced DTM driver Gary Paffett, which is very impressive for Kubica’s first test in a downforce-producing car in two years.
Whether or not Kubica will be able to drive a single-seater remains to be seen – there are still doubts about the mobility of his right arm in the confined space of a Formula One cockpit. Nonetheless, his comfort in a DTM car indicates that he is fit for racing at a high level and that means it should not be long before Robert Kubica is competing on a race track once again.
See photos of Kubica’s DTM test: Kubica tests Merc DTM car – photo gallery
Norbert Haug is set to leave Mercedes-Benz at the end of 2012, after a successful 22-year career as head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport.
Under Haug’s leadership, Mercedes-Benz has featured in top-level racing as a constructor and engine supplier and enjoyed considerable success, including six Formula One World Championships – as engine supplier to McLaren and Brawn – and 32 DTM titles. The only apparent failure under Haug’s leadership has been the return of the Silver Arrows to Formula One as a constructor – in three years the Mercedes Formula One team has managed only a single victory and has never looked like challenging for the World Championship, despite having the services of technical genius Ross Brawn and legendary driver Michael Schumacher.
Despite the underwhelming performance of the Formula One team, Haug’s achievements at the helm of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport have been significant and have established Mercedes-Benz very much at the forefront of world motorsport.
Dr Dieter Zetsche, CEO of parent company Daimler AG, paid tribute to Haug, saying, “Norbert Haug was the face of the Mercedes-Benz Motorsport programme for more than 20 years. For me, he put his stamp on a whole era and, as a highlight, he was responsible for the successful comeback of the Silver Arrows to Formula One. In the name of the Board of Management and the whole motorsport family, I would like to thank Norbert for his extraordinary commitment to the three-pointed star.”
Norbert Haug took his opportunity to thank Mercedes-Benz for a long and successful association: “I would like to thank the best car company in the world for more than 22 years, which never had a single moment without passion for me. I particularly wish to thank the Board for the trust and freedom they have always given me with all my activities. Since 1991, we had tremendous achievements and wins, for which I want to thank all of my colleagues. Unfortunately, with one victory in 2012 since founding our own Formula One works team in 2010, we couldn’t fulfil our own expectations. However, we have taken the right steps to be successful in the future. Our team and our drivers will do everything to achieve these goals.”
Rumours are circulating of a possible change of engines for McLaren in 2014, when Formula 1 will move from the current 2.4 litre V8s to 1.6 litre V6 turbos.
It was reported some time ago that Honda might be considering a return to Formula 1 as an engine supplier, and that McLaren were potential customers. The team denied the rumour.
More recently, a switch to PURE engines has been suggested in the media. Again, McLaren have moved to deny the rumour, and the team has stated that it is happy with Mercedes-Benz and intends to continue the current partnership. There would be good reason to do so, given the success of the McLaren-Mercedes pairing over the last two decades.
However, there has been no indication of the length of the contract with Mercedes-Benz, which suggests that change may be possible. Mercedes has its own works team and will want the new Mercedes engine to work well with the Mercedes car. It therefore makes sense for McLaren to find an engine partner who would be more likely to design the engine to suit the McLaren car.
At this point, this is all speculation, but until McLaren makes some sort of definite announcement, the rumours are likely to continue.