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Questions linger for Renault over Kubica’s readiness for F1 return

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Renault still does not have all the answers it requires to decide whether or not Robert Kubica is ready to make a full-time return to Formula 1 for 2018 despite an impressive test performance by the Pole in Hungary.

Kubica’s F1 career looked to have ended abruptly in 2011 when he suffered severe injuries to his right arm in a rally accident over the winter break, only for him to make a number of steps towards a single-seater return this year.

Two strong private runs in a 2012-spec car led to Kubica featuring at the collective post-Hungarian Grand Prix test, impressing behind the wheel of the 2017 Renault F1 car and against his peers.

All of Kubica’s performances have fuelled speculation he could be on the cusp of a return to F1 in 2018 with Renault, but team boss Cyril Abiteboul said on Friday that he does not quite have all the answers required to know if a comeback is possible.

“Frankly, we said that we wanted to be extremely methodical and analytical about the way we were approaching things with Robert,” Abiteboul said.

“It’s not a PR exercise, it’s not a coup. It’s something we are taking very seriously and we are trying to leave the emotion on the side.

“We don’t have all the answers that we potentially wanted to get from that test, after his test. In relation to that, Formula 1 is very restrictive in terms of tests you can do, so in a perfect world we would want to do more of this type of test to see if he can race again at the level that he and we could have wanted.

“It may or may not be possible. We will see.”

Abiteboul confirmed that Renault would need to make a call on Kubica in the near future as it looks to decide on its driver plans for the 2018 season.

“Deciding on Robert is deciding our line-up the second part of our line-up for next year,” Abiteboul said.

“It’s well reported that Nico [Hulkenberg] has a multi-year contract when Jo [Palmer] has a one-year contract. So obviously we have one driver to decide for next year.

“So we have also the restrictions I was referring to on Robert and we’ll also need to consistent with the timing of deciding for a second driver and as the market is starting to sort of go, with the different announcements this week of Ferrari and McLaren.

“I expect there will be some other announcements at some points, because usually these things do not go in isolation, so we cannot just be sitting on our work and making up our plans and our timing ourselves.

“It has to follow the timing of all the drivers.”

MotoGP points leader Fabio Quartararo scores third win of season

MotoGP Fabio Quartararo
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Fabio Quartararo won the Catalan Grand Prix, recapturing the MotoGP points lead and his championship momentum Sunday with his third victory of the season.

Quartararo, who opened the season with his first two career victories in the premier series, took his first checkered flag in two months by winning at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya aboard his Petronas Yamaha SRT.

The French rider opened an eight-point lead (108-100) over Joan Mir, who finished second Sunday. Alex Rins was third.

After winning the previous race, Maverick Vinales slipped to 18 points behind Quartararo after a ninth-place finish.

Andrea Dovizioso was the points leader entering the race but crashed his Ducati in the second turn and placed last. Dovizioso fell three spots to fourth in the championship rankings, 24 points behind Fabio Quartararo in MotoGP.