While Robert Kubica may have left Williams at the end of a disastrous 2019 Formula 1 campaign, he’s pleased to see his former team fightback during pre-season testing despite now being a rival.

The Polish driver stepped away from a Williams race seat to become test and reserve driver at Alfa Romeo for this season, dovetailing his efforts with a maiden season in DTM with BMW, and became the surprise name at the top of the timesheet on the opening day of the second pre-season F1 test.

While the outright times weren’t necessarily representative of the anticipated F1 pecking order, Kubica was also pleased to be challenged by the Williams drivers given the nightmare situation the team faced 12 months ago.

Last year Williams missed the first two-and-a-half days of F1 testing due to delays in completing its car before quickly realising its FW42 was horribly off the pace.

Kubica in particular struggled with the car on his F1 comeback, returning to Grand Prix racing for the first time since his life-threatening rallying accident in early 2011, as he required chassis swaps with teammate George Russell to get to the bottom of his problems. The former F1 race-winner’s fortunes didn’t improve across the season as he was out-qualified by Russell at every race, but Kubica did score Williams’s only point of the season with 10th place at the German Grand Prix.

Kubica says there is no ill-feeling between him and Williams following last year and was pleased to see the team’s improved performances at pre-season testing.

“I’m happy they made a bit step forward, because at Williams there’s a lot of people that have delivered a good job and it’s nice to see Williams out of the bottom,” Kubica said. “Definitely these cars are fast, but that doesn’t mean they are more difficult to drive, last year it was more difficult going slower last year.

“There’s nothing easy in F1, so whatever you’re driving – Mercedes, Ferrari or Williams – there are always difficulties. What you have to target is doing your job as best as you can and try to extract the maximum from your package.”

Kubica could not confirm when he will be back in an F1 car after completing two half-days of pre-season testing for Alfa Romeo. With no in-season testing, Kubica could be called on for Pirelli tyre testing or the post-season Abu Dhabi test. The Polish driver will also be on hand to step in if Antonio Giovinazzi or Kimi Raikkonen are unable to drive during the season.