Renault Sport

Kubica puts F1 comeback chances at ’80 to 90 per cent’

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Ex-Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica says his chances of a comeback are at “80 to 90 per cent” after enjoying a successful test with Renault as part of his long-running comeback from injury.

Kubica raced in F1 between 2006 and 2010, taking one grand prix victory, but was forced to quit ahead of the 2011 season after suffering severe injuries to his right arm and hand in a rally accident.

Kubica made his motorsport comeback in rallying, racing in the FIA World Rally Championship before returning to circuit racing last year with a handful of one-off events.

The Pole has recently tested a number of single-seater cars, culminating in half a day’s running at Valencia with Renault in a 2012 F1 car.

Speaking to Auto Express following a showrun in a Renault F1 car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Kubica said that he felt comfortable behind the wheel once again, allaying any fears he had about his capability.

“My first target was to see if I could be capable of doing it. So this is more or less done,” Kubica said.

“Second, let’s say, realistically talking, is raising the game slowly and step by step. F1 is a tough competition and I have been away from racing a long time.

“I think most of the question marks I had are gone, and I’m very comfortable with it. Actually it was a huge relief for me because this test would have been a case of ‘yes, I can do this’ or ‘no, I have to close the door on F1 forever’.

“I know it seems strange because I was away for a very long time and I kept quiet, but I never said that I’d never be back. Because I knew that there is a chance for me.

“I always said it would be very difficult. But Valencia showed, in fact, that it’s not really as difficult as I thought. It’s more possible than I ever thought. It’s a good feeling and I’m happy that I have this day done.”

When asked about his chances of making a full-time comeback racing in F1, Kubica said that the test had changed his perspective completely, giving himself strong odds to do so.

“If you asked me how much I was realistically thinking that coming back to F1 was possible, I would have put myself up to 10 or maximum 20 per cent chance,” Kubica said.

“The clock is running, not just the classification, but also getting older. F1 is going so fast that some people forget. Not everyone, but some.

“Because I’m very realistic, and I’m keeping my feet on the ground, I’d [now] put it at 80 or 90 per cent.”

Kubica is set to enjoy a second private test with Renault in the near future, making him a player in the evolving driver market for F1 in 2018.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”