Kubica and Williams to part company at the end of 2019
It was one of the great comeback stories in sporting history – but Robert Kubica’s Formula 1 return is set to last just one season, with the Polish driver confirming that he will leave Williams at the end of 2019.
Kubica – who recently revealed that he had been set for a move to Ferrari in 2011 when he suffered a horrific rallying accident that derailed his career – created a sensation when he was confirmed alongside reigning F2 champion George Russell at Williams for 2019, having spent the previous year as the team’s reserve and development driver.
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But with Williams currently struggling with poor performance, and Kubica having been out-qualified by Russell at each of the 14 rounds so far this year, the Polish driver confirmed in the press conference ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix that his fairy tale return with the team would conclude at the end of the season.
I have to do what will bring me back a bit of joy of racing
“I have taken the decision that I will not continue more with Williams after this year,” said Kubica. “The decision opens a bit the opportunities for me for the future in different scenarios and now I will evaluate what is possible.”
Asked if he would have liked to have stayed in F1, Kubica replied: “Of course, my answer will be yes, but not [at any] cost, and I think I have to first of all do what will bring me back a bit of joy of racing.
“This season has been very tough from a performance point of view, but it's been also very demanding. Being back in Formula 1 after a long time is not easy, and especially when you're in a difficult situation like we are. But still, nevertheless, I have to thank the team for the opportunity and we'll see what the future will bring.”
In a statement released by the team, Williams’ Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams said: “I would like to thank Robert for his hard work and respect his decision to leave the team at the end of the 2019 season.
“Robert has been an important member of the team in both his role as Reserve & Development Driver, and subsequently as one of our Race Drivers in 2019. We thank him for his continued efforts throughout what has been a challenging couple of seasons and wish him well in his future endeavours.”
The announcement most likely spells the end of the Pole’s F1 career, which began midway through 2006 when he was drafted in as a replacement at BMW Sauber for Jacques Villeneuve, and which saw him claim a sole victory for the team at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, alongside 11 additional podiums for both BMW Sauber and Renault.
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Kubica is now understood to be considering opportunities to race in other series, with Audi reportedly having held talks with the Pole about a move to DTM.
Meanwhile, Kubica’s departure will now incite a race for the second seat at Williams, with current F2 frontrunner and Williams test driver Nicholas Latifi thought to be the prime candidate – although Williams’ former driver Nico Hulkenberg is also still a free agent, having been released by Renault and with Haas confirming in Singapore that they would retain Romain Grosjean alongside Kevin Magnussen for 2020, having previously revealed that they’d been interested in potentially signing the German.