The Formula One dream looked like it might be over for Robert Kubica at the end of last year, when his team let him go after he clawed his way back to F1 following a horrific 2011 rally crash that partially severed his arm. But it isn’t over yet, because Alfa Romeo Racing just named Kubica as its reserve driver.
Alfa Romeo also found a new sponsor, and would now like for you to call it “Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN,” caps and all. “Alfa” will probably suffice.
Alfa Romeo’s team principal, Frédéric Vasseur, said Kubica “displayed the true meaning of human determination” after that rally crash in 2011, which is one of the reasons why it was such a triumph that he made it back to F1, and why it was unfortunate to see him lose out on a full-time ride so soon.
Alfa Romeo announced the changes Wednesday, saying Kubica will return to the team where he made his debut and claimed his first and only F1 victory in 2008, back when it was BMW Sauber. It wasn’t many years later when Kubica’s first shot at F1 fell apart in the 2011 crash that still impacts his ability to use his affected arm.
Kubica was in his mid 20s then, and didn’t return to F1 until age 34. Before he did, Kubica called his own odds of making that return “very slight.” They were, given the severity of the injury and recovery. But Kubica did make it back, albeit just for one season with the underperforming Williams team before he was out.
The Alfa announcement didn’t mention plans for Kubica in the reserve role past 2020, but the role means he will work closely with the team and step in should one of its two regular drivers need a sub. That’s far different from driving full time, but it does mean Kubica gets to stay in open-wheel racing’s top level.