Yesterday’s Dutch Grand Prix was Robert Kubica’s first start in F1 since the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Polish driver deputised for Kimi Raikkonen as the Finnish driver was confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday morning.
It meant Kubica only had FP3 to prepare for qualifying and the race. Despite the lack of track time, he managed to outqualify Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
In the race, he overtook Nicholas Latifi on their final lap of the race (two laps down on Max Verstappen) to finish a very respectable P15. The 36-year-old also had battles with Vettel and Mazepin.
He spoke in-depth about his race below.
“We were all thinking it’d be a chaotic race with some interruptions and yellows, stuff like this, but nothing happened,” said Kubica, according to Motorsportweek.com.
“70 laps, it has been tough one, but also mentally, you know, there’s so many things happening which you don’t know, you don’t know how the car will feel, how much grip you will lose [from the tyres].
“I nearly lost the car by just following Lewis [Hamilton], I let [the leaders] by into Turn 1 and thought ‘okay I take it easy into Turn 2’ and suddenly I have no grip – following the cars is very difficult, I knew it is difficult but I didn’t remember it, it’s really, really challenging!
“Then of course I was losing the tyre, Latifi was losing one lap, one and a half lap later, I had a good last sector, managed to exit [well], used what I had from the power unit, and with DRS, and for me I knew it would be quite an easy move so yeah, managed to overtake him, which to be honest was a good reward. Not because it is him, but [because] I felt for the first time since 2010 that I was actually racing in Formula 1.
“And although, with all these difficulties, probably it was an easier race than we had often [in 2019] but there are a lot of things I can improve if I review everything, but all in all I go home really satisfied.”
Kubica had taken part in eight FP1 sessions [five in 2020, three in 2021] before his sudden call-up last weekend, but went on to explain why they weren’t too helpful for him during the Zandvoort event.
“The fact is that even if I’m reserve driver in our team since last year probably I did in total three starts [before] going to the grid in those two years,” the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix winner continued.
“Even when you do Fridays you never really try [for example] to attack pit entry, yes you are the reserve driver but in reality you never think it [a race chance] might happen.
“Yes, you know it can happen, but you will never risk some silly stuff [during practice], especially when you are jumping [into the car] every three or four months, you are always recovering the [lost] time and there is no continuity.
“It is like giving a tennis racket to the player after two years and saying to him ‘go to play a Wimbledon match’.
“It is nearly impossible to jump in and being on the pace, although if it would be last year I’m confident [that] the feeling was much better for me.
“We never thought about working on [the issues with the 2021 car] because yes I’m reserve driver but you are focusing on the race drivers, so I was not even really pushing to try and invest some time and probably even money to change things.
“I would like to again thank the team as they supported me massively.”