Robert Kubica confirms Mercedes simulator run

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Robert Kubica has confirmed that he recently completed some test work in Mercedes’ Formula One simulator as part of his recovery programme.

Kubica competed in the sport between 2006 and 2010 before suffering a heavy accident whilst rallying during the off-season. His right hand required a great deal of surgical reconstruction and physio, and his racing career appeared to be over. However, the Polish driver returned to rallying last year, and he even managed to win some events by a colossal margin, spurning rumors that an F1 comeback could be possible. In an interview with Autosport, Kubica has revealed that he did do some simulator work, but that it should not be read into.

“I can say yes, I was there, but I cannot say how many times or how many laps I did,” Kubica said.

His ties with Mercedes were strengthened after he tested a touring car for the German manufacturer earlier this year, and Toto Wolff has said that he would love to work with Kubica again should the opportunity arise.

Although this is an encouraging sign about Kubica’s recovery, the one-time race winner is unsure whether he will do more work for the team.

“Maybe. I don’t know. It’s not that every time someone sees me at Heathrow airport I’m going to Mercedes.”

This is a good sign that Kubica still has the desire to race competitively, but quite whether he is ready to make a return to single seaters, let alone Formula One, remains to be seen.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.