Ferrari was poised to cement potentially the most potent partnership in F1 when Robert Kubica's career in the top flight was cut short by his accident on the Ronde di Andora rally in early 2011.
While Ferrari's interest in pairing the Pole with Fernando Alonso
was obvious, Stefano Domenicali has now revealed that the Scuderia was ready to make a move for his services when news filtered through about the crash which left Kubica with serious injuries – some of which the team boss fears will prevent any return to the top flight.
“We were keeping an eye on him,” Domenicali confirmed in an interview on the official Ferrari
website, “Unfortunately, I don't think he will be back because, with his physical problem, he would struggle in certain limited situations which require reactivity. It's a shame.”
Unable to take a chance on Kubica – who has since gone on to carve out a new career in top flight rallying as well as sampling both Mercedes' F1 simulator and DTM cars – Ferrari
has kept faith with Felipe Massa
as Fernando Alonso's number two, despite the Brazilian also suffering a serious incident that left him in hospital with life-threatening head injuries. Domenicali, however, insists that there is nothing to suggest that Massa's ability to perform behind the wheel had been dulled by the accident.
“From a medical point of view, there is no proof that the accident left any permanent damage, such as problems with his sight or reflexes,” the team principal explained, “And then there's the gentility which would demand that we give a driver who hasn't had much luck, the chance to show he deserves to stay with us.
“If Felipe was unable to deliver the performance we hoped for, it was mainly down to a hyper-sensitivity to a car that was too nervous at the rear but, in 2008, he almost took the title and I consider him as a world champion.”
Now, after four years of the Alonso-Massa tandem, Ferrari
has switched its partnership up for 2014, re-signing Kimi Raikkonen
to partner the man who replaced him in the line-up for 2010.
“We took Raikkonen because we wanted more,” Domenicali admitted, “When we replaced him with Alonso, he was not happy and so he returns with a great desire to do well.”