F1: Robert Kubica Impresses In Renault Test Run
The car may be old but its the performance of the driver that's the story here. Robert Kubica returned to F1, after a fashion, earlier this week with an extensive test run in a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car at Valencia.
The age of the car and the circuit were likely determined by F1's current rules which ban testing, but the reason for Kubica being in the car is far more interesting. Considered by many to be a potential World Champion and certainly one of the fastest drivers of his generation, Kubica's F1 career seemed to be over after a 2011 crash whilst driving in the Rally of Andora. His Skoda Fabia was penetrated by a guardrail in the high speed accident partially severing his right arm.
Up until last year Kubica has been competing in rallying, with the expectation that the limited movement in his repaired arm would prohibit a return to single seater racing.
So this week's test is both interesting and confusing. Interesting because Kubica completed 115 laps of the retired F1 circuit - including a race simulation run. Unofficially Kubica managed to turn faster times than Renault's current reserve driver Sergei Sirotkin.
Confusing because it muddies the waters around Renault's second seat, currently occupied by the underwhelming Jolyon Palmer. Rumours have place Sebastien Buemi in that seat for the rest of the season. The reigning Formula E Champion is a contracted Renault driver and has proven his talent in the electric formula, having been the standout performer through every Formula E season thus far.
So where does Kubica fit in? The Pole clearly has unfinished F1 business and Renault, with faith in Palmer draining away, has the opportunity to create a media storm by bringing Kubica back into the sport.
That media interest is likely to get Renault more column inches than the minimal levels of success its 2017 car seems capable of achieving. That in itself seems like a good enough reason for Renault to make a space for Kubica in its team.