Rowland: ‘Difficult’ fighting Kubica for 2018 Renault F1 seat

FIA Formula 2
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Formula 2 racer Oliver Rowland feels it is “difficult” to fight against Robert Kubica for a Renault Formula 1 seat in 2018 given the momentum behind the Pole to make a racing return.

Kubica’s remarkable comeback from severe injuries to his right arm sustained while rallying in 2011 took another step forward on Wednesday when he completed a test in a 2017 F1 car with Renault in Hungary, putting in a competitive display.

Kubica appears to be in contention for a full-time seat with Renault for 2018 – if not earlier – giving Rowland, its current development driver, some serious competition in the race to replace the struggling Jolyon Palmer.

Besides Rowland, Renault also has Canadian youngster Nicholas Latifi and Russia’s Sergey Sirotkin on its books, but the Briton feels he is better placed than them to step up to F1 with Renault.

“Robert was an incredible driver back in his day. He’s been injured, he’s come back, he’s got some restrictions with his arm – we just have to see how that affects him and what performance he brings with that,” Rowland told Channel 4 F1.

“Robert comes with a lot of support and everybody would like to see him back in Formula 1, which is why it’s a little bit difficult for me pushing that seat as well when he’s in the frame.

“As for the other two, Nicholas is my teammate in F2 so there is a direct comparison there. If he was to beat me then he should get a seat in F1 and if it’s the other way round you’d like to think that I would.

“Sirotkin did GP2 last year and finished third but I’d like to think that I’m doing a slightly better job. We were also teammates in 2014 in World Series by Renault and I beat him then.

“I see myself as not coming with the most backing in the world but second favorite behind Robert from that side of things.

“I respect him from what he did before, and it would be nice to see him there if I wasn’t fighting for the seat!”