The last few years have seen several famous comebacks to Formula One: Michael Schumacher returned in 2010 after three years out of the sport, with Kimi Raikkonen’s 2012 comeback provoking more flair and emotions on track than any words uttered to the press. Adrian Sutil, too, has returned after a year’s hiatus to less fanfare.
The next driver who could be on the comeback trail is Polish driver Robert Kubica, perhaps one of the lost stars of this generation.
Kubica told Autosport his sole focus is a return to an full-time F1 race seat for 2014. He was most recently in Mercedes’ F1 simulator.
“I’m not able to come back into single-seaters at the moment, and my vision is not to come back in saloon cars on the circuit at this stage,” said Kubica, 28. “There is not any guarantee, there is no percentage to say whether I will come back or not, but it’s also not 100 percent that I will not be back in F1. I will try my best.”
He admitted DTM cars have some appeal later in his career, but not at the moment. Ex-Marussia and Toyota driver Timo Glock has taken up residence in the German championship this season, which starts this weekend in Hockenheim.
Kubica’s rally accident in 2011 cost him his F1 career to this point. His stock was boosted after a sincerely impressive 2010 where he dragged his geriatric Renault to places it shouldn’t have been. His best year, statistically, was in 2008 when he tied for third in the World Championship with Raikkonen, and won his first and only Grand Prix for BMW Sauber at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Brendon Hartley says scoring a point on his Formula 1 debut would be “a dream” after being resigned to last place on the grid for the United States Grand Prix following an engine penalty.
Porsche factory driver Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso to replace Pierre Gasly for the USGP when the Frenchman was ruled out due to clashing commitments in Super Formula.
Despite having not driven an F1 car since 2012, Hartley came within one-tenth of a second of making it through to Q2 on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas, ultimately qualifying 18th.
“Obviously I’d love to be quicker but we knew we were starting at the back, so we put a lot of focus on long runs, getting the peak performance out of this Pirelli tire I didn’t get today,” Hartley told NBCSN after the race.
“In FP3 I had a good feeling. There’s a lot of quirky things to manage with these tires. Honestly I should be happy with how the weekend’s gone so far.”
The New Zealander will start last due to a 25-place grid penalty for changes made to his power unit ahead of practice on Friday, and is daring to dream of making the top 10 in his first race out of a sports car for more than five years.
“I don’t do the 24 hours completely alone!” Hartley joked. “It’s quick. It’s physical to drive. I’ll be happy to be done after an hour and a half.
“A point would be a dream starting from the back. If I can move forward and put a race together, I’ll be happy.”
The United States Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.