F1: Robert Kubica On Brink Of Amazing Return To Renault
Following his successful return to the cockpit of an F1 car a month ago in Valencia and last weekend's demonstration run at Goodwood; Robert Kubica will take the next step in what is looking more and more like the most astonishing comeback story since Nika Lauda's incredible 1976 return.
Kubica will drive at Le Castellet Circuit Paul Ricard, the home of the French Grand Prix from 2018; in a serious review of his ability to return to the team at some unspecified date in the future.
That date may not be too far away either. With Jolyon Palmer enduring a nightmare of a season and Renault openly calling for him to raise his game, it would seem an opportune moment the relieve the struggling Englishman of his duties right after the British Grand Prix.
Having Kubica return to the sport for the second half of the season would be the sort of story which wins column inches for the team - something that isn't happening on the basis of the car's current performance.
Can Kubica cut it in F1? It's been reported that he was able to match Nico Hulkenberg's times in the Renault simulator; and we know from last month's Valencia run that he was able to outpace Renault's official reserve driver Sergey Sorotkin in 2012 car. So none of the pace appears to have gone.
The question which remains is how much of an impact the lost mobility in his right arm will have? I imagine that Monte Carlo will prove to be difficult, given the large amount of steering input required for its tight turns. The rest of the schedule would be less of a problem.
That question is probably the best reason for putting Kubica in the car for the rest of 2017. If it goes well 2018, with a new car and a known talent at the wheel, could be Renault's breakthrough year. If it goes badly there's no loss, given the limited capability of the current car and the less than spectacular results Palmer is achieving in it.
Personally I'd love to see Robert back in the Renault this year, as I'm sure his many fans - and the whole of Poland - would too.
Image Richard Munckton: Kubica / Renault 2nd Place Australian GP 2010