Kubica announced as Williams race driver
Robert Kubica will return to Formula One next season with Williams to a race seat, eight years after life-changing injuries in a rally accident. The Polish driver suffered a partially severed right arm among many other injuries in the crash and still has partial movement in that limb.
The 2008 Canadian Grand Prix winner, will be the teammate to rookie George Russell. Speaking to BBC News, Kubica said: “From the human point of view, I understand and see the point that it is a story that probably nobody has believed.”
“Probably the only one who never gave up was myself and the people around me. We all knew that it might be something not achievable. This shows that somehow nothing is impossible.” The polish driver says that he believes its normal for people to look at his limitations, but he wouldn’t have pushed for a seat if he would not be able to drive competitively enough.
After eight years away from the sport, in 2016 Kubica tried a simulator at the factory of Italian racing car constructor Dallara, and realised a return to F1 might now be possible.
In 2017, he conducted a series of tests with Renault, who eventually passed on the opportunity to sign him, and then began talks with Williams, who were poised to sign him for 2018 before a last-minute change of heart.
But Sirotkin has failed to meet the team’s expectations this season which means his backers or own funds have been reduced. While Kubica has outperformed him in tests and on the simulator.
Williams said: “Robert has done a great job for the team this year. He has pushed really hard in the reserve driver role and done some great work on the race track.
“Next year is a new start for Williams and I have spent a lot of time with Robert over the course of this year and I have really enjoyed his company.”
Mercedes best year yet – Wolff
Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff says that the team are braced for a “very difficult and complicated” 2019 and faces a fierce challenge from both Ferrari and Red Bull.
The German manufacturer has become only the second team in F1 history to clinch five consecutive double world titles, sealing every Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship since 2014. However, this season has been the toughest since 2014.
Mercedes have often been on the back foot when it comes to outright pace, but Ferrari has made a series of errors that have cost them the championship. Wolff to Sky Sports, “The risk is you become complacent with winning – but I think this team has overcome this obstacle.”
“But the job is going to get more difficult every year. We are setting the benchmark and our competition will get more energised and more motivated by us.
“You have to acknowledge the strength of the other teams, and acknowledge that you could lose next year’s championship and respect what they might achieve.” The Austrian says that the team will fight hard to be in contention for a sixth drivers and constructors.
Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have played their part. But Hamilton, Wolff says has new motivation to equal Michael Schumacher on seven, now he has five titles and has equalled Juan Manuel Fangio. Describing it as the best yet.
Emotions hard to judge after races – Vettel
Sebastian Vettel believes that it is hard for non-racing drivers to judge the emotional rollercoaster of a grand prix weekends following the off-track altercation between Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon after the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Verstappen tracked down Ocon after the race and repeatedly shoved him in the chest before storming off. The incident was investigated by the stewards of the race and Verstappen was given a penalty of “public service”.
Asked by ESPN, Vettel initially said “I mean, I have an opinion and I’m not sure I should say what I think. I think in the end it’s very simple.”
“I think we have emotions, we are human beings and emotions go both ways. They go full of joy when something good happens and you’re happy and they probably swing the other way if you’re not happy or upset.
Vettel was the subject of an FIA investigation last year after he drove his Ferrari into the side of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes under a Safety Car in Baku.
Pushed to give his opinion on the events in Brazil, he said it is hard for those who do not race to understand the emotions at play during and after a race. Vettel says that the drivers are only human and they are full of joy when it goes right and in the other way if you’re not happy or upset.
He added, “There’s a lot at stake and I think that explains the emotions and, as I said, I think emotions are a part of sports I think they will always be.”
Gosh ousted as Renaults chairman
The chairman of Renault and parent company Nissan, Carlos Ghosn has been ousted by the board over allegations of financial misconduct. He has been accused by Nissan of under-reporting his salary and using company assets for personal use.
But some see it as part of the firm’s attempt to rebalance power in its alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi, which Mr Ghosn also chairs. Ghosn was seen as the key in the alliance and was a key player in the teams return to Formula One in 2016. Nissan’s board issued a statement which said the decision to dismiss the two men was unanimous.
The board’s mission was “to minimise the potential impact and confusion on the day-to-day cooperation among the Alliance partners”, it added.
Ghosn is accused of filing annual securities reports containing fake statements, which could mean up to 10 years in prison, or a fine of 10m yen, or both. But he is yet to be charged with any offence.
Haas protests Force India’s design
Haas has launched a protest against Force India going into this weekends Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with both teams called to face the stewards tomorrow morning.
It is understood that the protest is centred around the pertains to the new Force India entry running a design, the VJM11, built by the original team. F1 regulations state all entries must own the intellectual property rights to their design.
Force India, who were owned by Vijay Mallya, went into administration at the Hungarian Grand Prix and then were brought by the Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll.
Haas and Force India are not rivals for position in the constructors’ championship as Haas is fifth on 90 points and Force India seventh, on 48, after losing its results from the first half of the season.
Haas believes that as a new team, Force India are now not be allowed to immediately qualify for ‘Column 1’ payments from F1.
Teams need to finish in the top ten in two of three seasons to be eligible for that payment, and Haas needed to wait and go through that process when it entered F1 in 2016 to be eligible for that money.
Force India have done that, however Racing Point Force India are in their first season and that where the issue arises from. They believe, its situation was unique and it should be exempt from said requirement.
There have been strong hints from Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer at recent races that this dispute would be settled in his team’s favour.
Ricciardo ready for an emotional goodbye at Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo believes that he will have “a right good cry” following his final race at Red Bull in this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Australian is leaving the team for Renault following ten years of backing from the team.
Revealing piece penned for The Players’ Tribune, Ricciardo admitted that, while excited about his switch to Renault, he is expecting this weekend to be an emotional one.
He wrote, “I’m going with an open mind and a full heart Nobody has a crystal ball or can predict the future or the results of my decision, but nonetheless a decision was made. But for now, I want to end this year strong.”
“It’s not going to be easy, mentally. I know that. Each lap I turn in the car will mean one lap closer to my last in a Red Bull race suit. And when I get out for the final time in Abu Dhabi… I think I’m going to have a right good cry. Maybe a few of [them].”
Ricciardo’s career started in Formula Renault Eurocup, British Formula 3, and Formula Renault 3.5 with Red Bull before its motorsport advisor Helmut Marko engineered his grand prix debut with HRT at Silverstone in 2011.
He described Red Bull as a family and a statement of what possible. He wrote that it was the good times that led him to make the call to leave for Renault.
“I feel incredibly privileged to have driven for Red Bull Racing and been part of the Red Bull family for 10 years. They gave me my break, and without Dr Marko spotting me all those years ago, I don’t think I would have been able to make my way to F1, to my dream job.”
Alonso farewell livery
McLaren are running a special livery on Fernando Alonso’s car as the Spaniard says farewell to the sport at this weekends Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The two times champion is leaving the sport after eighteen years and says he doesn’t plan to return.
McLaren has unveiled a new livery on Alonso’s MCL33, with the colours of the Spaniard’s helmet – blue, yellow and red – incorporated into the orange and black livery.
The colours have been emblazoned across the car’s engine cover, while there is also a special ‘FA’ logo on the top and sides of the cockpit.
The Weekend Ahead
This weekend F1 heads to Abu Dhabi for the final race of the season. Yas Marina is a varied circuit meaning that there is no clear favourite as the previous few races have been throwing up surprises. The circuit has sectors which could benefit the top three teams.
Also overtaking can be difficult, meaning qualifying can be very important and that single lap pace can be key. The FP2 session is more important as this is a twilight race this like in Singapore can have a huge impact as performance in cooler temperatures is more relevant to the race.
That causes unpredictable tyre performances and means that getting them in the right window is key. Racing then should be interesting this weekend.
Today we have had confirmation of Robert Kubica’s return, tomorrow we will see him in the car as well as the Abu Dhabi test. This story is likely to run into next week and we still wait on the second seat, the feeling I believe, is that it may be someone new given Lance Stroll’s Force India links and Sergey Sirotkin’s under delivery.
Of course, one of the stories going into the weekend is Fernando Alonso has he retires. This will continue into next week, as I believe we reflect on his career as he does too. We will also look at the futures of Marcus Ericsson and Stoffel Vandoore as they leave the sport.
Formula One Vault will bring you LIVE and full coverage of the final race of the season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from 08:45 UKT on Friday with first practice on our LIVE Twitter account @F1VaultLive. We will bring you race coverage from 12:40 on Sunday with the race starting at 13:10 UK time. And to our readers in America, happy thanksgiving