During free practice one, Williams' Reserve and Development Driver Robert Kubica was in the spotlight as he took part of a Grand Prix weekend - behind the wheel of the Williams FW41 - for the first time since 2010.
Kubica needs no introduction, and for a long time now he has made it clear - with his hard work - that he has nothing to prove to anyone.
He is different yet the same, how so?
The accident is a chapter that changed him forever but also gave him the strength and wisdom to move forwards onto a new goal, his come back to the pinnacle of racing. After seven years a come back seemed almost impossible, the future was uncertain, and many even doubted the possibility.
Time went by, Robert Kubica starting to work even harder, preparing his mind, body, and soul to only then going for the first test, and he wasn´t just testing a car, he was testing himself above all.
Emotions were all over the cockpit, so did the professional driver, the high-skill driver who not for a single fraction of a second had lost his natural talent.
Testing after testing, he improved. First with Renault, then Williams came along and a lot of between happened to this date.
The story led us at the moment a new chapter, began to be written.
Early in 2018, Kubica was introduced as Williams' Reserve and Development driver "impossible" is not a word this man has ever known.
Last weekend has been one of those moments greater than it first seems.
What we could see on the track and off-track, watching Kubica working along Williams´ engineers in the garage since Australia, shows one does not need to hold a number one board to recognize one, it´s enough to wear it on the inside.
After his first Formula One Grand Prix free practice session on Friday since 2010, the Pole stated:
“It is a good feeling – not so much from being in the car but from before that because I’m back driving in an official session, even if it’s only FP1. It’s the first time since the end of 2010 so there’s some emotion, but this disappeared very soon as we have quite a difficult car to drive.
The balance was quite off, but somehow we have to stick to what we’ve got to complete our aero tests and evaluations. It wasn’t an easy session, but we managed in difficult conditions and I was able to give some good feedback. When you’re struggling so much it’s difficult to enjoy it, but still, I’m happy because I think the most difficult car we’ve had was in this session and I managed to stay cool, and somehow extract what I thought was a reasonable level of performance. I think I can be happy as I did what I was asked to do.”
But that wasn´t all, yesterday he took part in the second day of in-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.
It´s important to gather as much data as possible with the tests not so much to set the fastest times.
His feedback to the team is essential as well as the data he got after completing 123 laps, but he also managed to be fast - compared to his teammates -finishing 1.3s quicker than his teammate Canadian driver Lance Stroll.
He was also faster than Sergey Sirotkin who took part in free practice 2, later in the same day.
Before launch, he had already completed a total of 59 laps setting what would be his best time in the session (1.19.253).
The Pole finished the testing session eighth with the Hypersoft (Pink) compound.
The fastest time of the session was set by Valtteri Bottas (1.16.904) on the Supersoft (Red) compound.
“In the end, it’s difficult to say it was enjoyable because our car balance was very bad and it was very difficult to drive so it was difficult to enjoy.”
“But I’m satisfied with the session, and how I react to difficult conditions and difficult balance. It sounds strange that you can be happy about P19, but actually I’m happy,” Kubica said.
Back on Day 1 of testing (Tuesday) Oliver Rowland driving the FW41, finished 9th after 121 laps, with a time of 1.20.009 also on the Hypersoft compound.
The fastest time of this session was set by Max Verstappen (1.17.528) on the Hypersoft compound.
Robert Kubica: There will be a lot of things to analyze and double check all the data we gathered. It was an interesting day from a driving point of view but it will be more interesting for the guys back at the factory to look at the data and see what we can get out of it. With limited time we need to find the best way of fixing our issues. That’s not something we will be doing in 24 hours. I am happy to help and I did my best as always.
Dave Robson, Performance Projects – Principal Engineer: We’ve had another very busy and productive day today with a lot of laps completed. We’ve run a solid programme with Robert, building on the ground work we did yesterday with Oliver in the car. Robert’s done a really good job and once again we’ve collected an awful lot of data that’s hopefully going to help inform how we set the car up and develop it in Monaco and beyond.