Robert Kubica is a Formula 1 World Champion in-waiting, according to Damon Hill – but the BMW-Sauber star himself is refusing to let paddock speculation that he is Ferrari-bound in the near future sway his focus from the remainder of the 2008 campaign.
Kubica currently sits fourth in the drivers' title chase with two-thirds of the season completed, and though he is still just 13 points off the head of the table, his challenge for glory has faded somewhat in tandem with BMW's dip in form over recent grands prix, with no rostrum finish now since his breakthrough Canadian Grand Prix triumph back in early June.
Indeed, eighth place in Hungary last time out was the Pole's worst finish of the year to-date – and 1996 F1 World Champion Hill suggested that should BMW not improve fast, the Munich and Hinwil-based outfit could be set to lose its prize asset.
“You have to give credit to him,” the British Racing Drivers' Club President told British newspaper The Sun
. “There are always drivers who seem to have that tiny bit extra, and he is one of them. He seems very calm and together about the whole business of motor racing.”
“There are lots of drivers who arrive in F1 and you know that they're good, but they're sort of missing an ingredient,” he added in an interview with The Associated Press
. “I think he's got that extra ingredient. I'd be very surprised if he wasn't on the shopping list of the top teams.
“There comes a point where drivers want to be in F1 to win. They will demand to have the equipment to do that. I think BMW have a strategy which is ambitious, but at the moment they are not quite in the front line of Formula 1.”
Kubica is in only his second full season in the top flight, but with five podium finishes from 33 races – four of them in 2008 – and his maiden pole position in Bahrain earlier this year, he is rapidly making his mark and is irrefutably 'in the front line'. Whilst maintaining that he is encouraged by his progress thus far, the 23-year-old acknowledges that he is still a long way from achieving his targets.
“There are many F1 drivers who are waiting for a win,” he explained, “and there are F1 drivers like Lewis [Hamilton] that came with a very good package, doing a very good job, and they manage to win straightaway. I'm pretty happy with what I have achieved but, of course, you always want more.
“To be honest, I will be not disappointed if I do not become world champion. I think all drivers would like to be world champion, but only one can win and it does not only depend on myself. For me, the most important thing is to be happy in what I'm doing.”
He is certainly happy at the moment, but Kubica has also made clear his desire to try his hand at rallying in years to-come – prompting some to wonder just how long the quiet man who prefers to shun the celebrity lifestyle espoused by some of his rivals will stick it out in world motor racing's uppermost echelon.
“I'm still young,” he added, “so I will see. I would like to do something in my life as a goal.
“Poland is my home and I miss, to be honest, the kind of freedom that I had five years ago. The last time I went jogging in Poland I couldn't run for five minutes without somebody asking me something or stopping me.
“It's nice but, in the end, when I'm at home I have some job to do...which I need a quiet atmosphere to do.”