Robert Kubica has spent his life driving things quickly. He is the first Polish driver ever to compete in F1. In 2006 he was promoted from test driver to race driver for BMW Sauber, and continued to drive for them till 2009. In June 2008, he won his first F1 victory at the Canadian Grand Prix, then moved to Renault for the 2010 season. As we say, quite handy behind the wheel…
And then, on February 6, just before the 2011 season got underway, and with a drive for Lotus Renault GP secured, Kubica took part in the Ronde di Andora rally. He was driving a Skoda Fabia in Super 2000 spec when his car hit some Armco at high speed, which pierced the cockpit and caused him a sting of major injuries including a partially severed arm, compound fractures to his right elbow, shoulder and leg, and a major loss of blood.
After seven hours of operations by seven doctors split into two teams immediately after the crash, and two more lengthy operations to his leg, shoulder and arm shortly after, Kubica survived the crash and retained partial use of his right hand. Though he did have a long road of recovery ahead of him.
’Suddenly, I was in a position that I wasn’t expecting in my life, so I had to adapt somehow. I was working towards F1 for all of my life, but I have a big passion for rallying. It’s also a very lengthy race program, so it keeps me very busy. It’s my rehabilitation, really.’
Kubica was discharged from hospital on April 24, 2011, but despite a huge amount of progress made through physiotherapy, he wasn’t yet ready to drive the 2012 season. And that forced Lotus F1 to start the season with two different drivers, namely Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. But ever optimistic, he persisted with rallying, and we find him here at the 2013 Tour de Corse round of the European Rally Championship, racing a DS3 for Citroen.
‘Because my hand is weak, I use a special hydraulic system that operates a mechanical sequential gearbox. Without it it’d be virtually impossible to drive it because of the damage to my hand. It doesn’t affect my driving though, or make anything easier – this is still a twisty and fast and challenging course. Just to get through it will be a result.
‘Being a race driver, it’s fun to push a car to the very limit, but here you have to be careful. As well as the corners, it’s full of interesting things on the track. We had a cow in the middle of the road on day one. I think it was a female. Anyway, we managed to get past it, but it shows how diverse the dangers are here.
‘All of my life I was working for F1, but it’s a rally like this that shows you as a driver that you can still be challenged by something else. It also means I am able to compete in a world class event and prove to myself that I am rehabilitating.’