Robert Kubica has passed the FIA’s mandatory cockpit extraction test ahead of his first drive in Renault’s 2017 F1 car and its boosting his opportunity of making a return to F1 as a full-time race driver role for next year.
Kubica took the cockpit extraction test, which guarantees a driver can exit a car within 5.0sec and replace the steering wheel within 10.0sec with wearing full race kit and helmet, on Monday ahead of his second F1 test of 2017 with Renault, which will take place this Wednesday.
The Polish driver has not participated in F1 since he suffered life-changing injuries in a crash in 2011, but now hopes to return to the sport after a six-year break.
He drove an F1 car for the first time in almost seven years during a private test with Renault at Valencia in June, and then completed 90 laps at Paul Ricard in the week before the British GP. It is proved his right arm ability, which mainly injured in a serious rallying accident back in 2011.
The FIA confirmed on Monday that Kubica passed the test, paving the way for the Krakow-born driver’s return to racing in 2018.
Kubica then drove the 2012 racer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where he was mobbed by fans eager to ask him about his comeback prospects. In the sanctuary of a Renault support truck in the Goodwood paddock, we asked him whether his fans should get their hopes up.
“They are getting over-optimistic,” the 32-year-old said through a smile.
“I have been away from racing for more than six years. The key point of the Valencia test was to give me a good opportunity to test an F1 car, but also to see if I could do it or not.”
“We have to be realistic. My state was very bad after the accident,” Kubica said. “Everybody sees me as a racing driver, but I am a human being. I wake up like everybody does. I have my better days and my worse days.”
Kubica has recently tested GP3 and Formula E cars, and showed good pace despite finding it difficult without power steering.
“F1 is tough and I have been away from racing for a long time,” Kubica said. “I don’t want to risk going racing when I’m not ready for a couple of races and then have a setback.”
Kubica will only consider an offer of an F1 drive if all the circumstances are right: the car, the team and, most importantly, his health. “I am not 18 any more. I’m not a rookie that wants every chance to race in F1. I only want to be in F1 if I’m 100% sure I am capable of doing the job. This is the target, although I don’t know if I will have the opportunity.”