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
Vitaly Petrov had his career saved by Caterham, after he lost his drive at Renault (this year’s Lotus). Two seasons with Renault had yielded mixed results, and by the end the Russian had not quite proven himself at the top level. Now a race driver with Caterham, he has another chance to show what he can do.
2011 started well for Petrov, with a podium in Australia. The Renault R31 had a strong start to the season and Petrov duly capitalised. As the season progressed and the car fell off the pace, however, there were no particular shows of brilliance from the Russian driver. Perhaps he was a little out of his depth in a team that was still reeling from losing lead driver Robert Kubica to injury. Petrov had two team-mates at Renault last season, neither of whom provided a good basis for comparison. Nick Heidfeld drove for the first half of 2011, but did not deliver the results the team was looking for and was replaced by the relatively inexperienced Bruno Senna.
Caterham provides a different challenge for Petrov. New team-mate Heikki Kovalainen has been with the team since it entered Formula One in 2010. As such, he has had a lot of time to get to know the team and how it works. Kovalainen has been the benchmark in the team, consistently outpacing team-mate Jarno Trulli. In Kovalainen, Petrov now has a strong team-mate. He will certainly be measured against Kovalainen.
The great drivers often show themselves in under-performing cars. Schumacher at Ferrari in 1996, Senna at McLaren in 1993 and Alonso at Ferrari in 2011 are all good examples of how to out-drive the car. In 2011, Petrov had a solid midfield car. In 2012, the same might not be true. While the relative pace of the cars is largely unknown at this stage, it can be safely assumed that Caterham willl not be fighting for podiums at the beginning of the season. So Petrov has a chance to show what he can do in a car that is perhaps not quite as quick as what he is used to.
Petrov has been labeled a “pay-driver” because he brings with him extensive sponsorship. It’s not a tag that any driver wants, and he will be keen to shed it in 2012. Some decent results and, perhaps more importantly, consistency could help him to establish himself firmly as a quality driver. In Melbourne in a week’s time, the challenge begins.
Robert Kubica is widely regarded as one of the most talented Formula 1 drivers around. Unfortunately, he also seems to attract trouble – in the form of horrific crashes.
In 2007, Kubica crashed at well over 200km/h at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. His car hit a concrete wall head-on and then bumped and rolled down the track for a few hundred metres before coming to a stop on its side. Remarkably, he was not seriously injured.
Before the start of the 2011 season, Kubica was seriously injured in a rally crash in which his car was impaled on a guardrail. He had serious injuries to his right arm and hand, and right leg, and was fortunate to survive. He is still recovering from the crash and has not driven a racing car since.
More recently, it was reported yesterday that Kubica slipped and fell on an icy road in Italy, re-opening the fracture in his right leg sustained in his 2011 rally accident.
While this latest incident is a setback for him, the racing world still watches in the hope that Robert Kubica will make a complete recovery and return to racing soon.