Pirelli’s Sporting Director Mario Isola feels Williams haven’t given Robert Kubica a fair opportunity of F1 track time to prove he’s capable of a comeback in 2018 if the Polish driver is overlooked as Felipe Massa’s replacement.

After being handed two private tests at the Hungaroring and Silverstone in a 2014-specification Williams F1 car, Kubica was named as part of the team’s driver line-up for the post-season Abu Dhabi tyre test alongside Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin.

Kubica, who had also enjoyed a mid-season F1 test in the current generation of cars with Renault in Hungary last July, tested in the morning of the first day and in the afternoon of the second day at the Yas Marina test to help gather data on Pirelli’s 2018 tyre compounds.

Williams also used the test to assess Kubica’s abilities as he aims for an F1 comeback after being forced out of the sport due to horrific right forearm injuries sustained in a rallying crash in 2011. The latest reports indicate Williams are set to named Russian driver Sirotkin as Stroll’s new team-mate and reject Kubica which Pirelli’s Isola believes would be an unfair call.

“I believe during the Abu Dhabi test Kubica did a good job and was able to show on the first day in the morning he did almost two race distances,” Isola told Crash.net. “In the afternoon of the second day he was more focused on performance runs but it isn’t easy for a driver who hasn’t driven a modern F1 car in a long time to go back and to be immediately quicker than others.

“I believe the expectations were too high but I don’t think he did a bad job or unable to understand the tyre. Obviously to understand the tyre and to be able to take the best from the tyre you need a bit more time than three or four hours in one afternoon, honestly, but this is my personal opinion.

“If you drive a car for the first time it is a car which is difficult because we’re talking about F1 which has different cars compared to when he was in the sport before. The performance is much higher, the time is limited, you have traffic on the track, you are under pressure to show that you can do your best. It happens that not everything is going to go in the right direction.”

With Williams using the detailed data and telemetry produced by Kubica’s Abu Dhabi test to assess the Polish driver’s capabilities, Pirelli also had exclusive insight into the former F1 race winner’s data as part of its 2018 tyre information and Isola says he saw enough potential to prove Kubica was capable of returning to F1 but needs more time in the current specification of cars.

“Check the sectors because in some laps he was very quick in some sectors and maybe he was not able to show that on a full lap,” he said. “I’m sure that with a bit more time he can come back to the original performance.

“I think he deserves the opportunity to show what he’s able to do. I know he has put a lot of thought and work into his physical preparation to be fit for driving the car. He is much slimmer now and lost a lot of weight to be ready to drive and has shown he can drive for a race distance. The speed is not something we have to discuss with him because in the past he has shown he has the speed.

“He needs less pressure and more opportunity to show us the potential.

“It doesn’t mean that the other drivers are not deserving of the race seat. I’m just talking about Robert and his potential, it’s a pity because it is a very good story to have him back in F1.”

Williams is expected to formally announce its 2018 F1 driver line-up in the coming days as it steps up preparations for the new campaign ahead of pre-season testing in Barcelona which begins on the 26th February.


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He is right, Kubica showed very good pace being out of any kind of competetive racing for more than a year and out of single sitters for 7 years. No sportsman can come back and straight away be on top form, thats unrealistic. His times were right there among regular drivers, great achievement! KUB should be praised for it not criticised! Shame on Williams and Renault for the put-downs...

Wow! Until Pirelli writes Williams a big cheque I think Isola should focus on his current role, which is to provide tires to formula one teams. As fans, we have opinions, some better than others. But in his current role he should not be trying to influence driver choices for any of the teams.

It probably has more to do with who brings the most money.  And lets face it, Kubica is no spring chicken.

7 years out... I mean, Schumacher was a 7 time World Champion and didn't do well on his return. The thing Kubica has is that he didn't actually stop driving altogether and he's also much younger than Michael was on his return. 

I honestly believe he can do it. Whether he's the best driver available right now is a different story...

I can't believe that Williams still haven't sorted this out. This should have been decided before the end of the season. Surely they need both their main drivers in the simulator to develop the 2018 car. Whoever gets the drive in the end is likely to be underprepared compared to Stroll as well. I wish Williams all the best, but they're not exactly helping themselves here. 

Anyone who has been available for F1, who has shown any kind of aptitude, seem to have found themselves checked out at some point by Mercedes, I don't feel that Kubica is finished just yet, he may not hit the heights he hit first time around, some of those heights were really high, we will see how this one plays out.

F1 may become a Stock Exchange hub rather Racing...

He had enough chances to show his skills and that with two different teams. I think they had enough data to see if his speed outruns the money someone else could bring. Besides the money man being also faster then Kubica. A shame yes he was getting there before his accident.