Debut & BMW Sauber (2006-2009)
Robert Kubica made his debut in F1 at the 2006 Hungarian GP; he had been given the race seat of the sacked Jacques Villeneuve at BMW Sauber. Although he was disqualified from his maiden race he had nonetheless impressed the team and retained the seat for the remainder of the season. The teams’ confidence in the young polish driver was quickly rewarded as Kubica finished an astonishing 3rd at the 2006 Italian GP (and it was only his 3rd race in F1!). Kubica finished in all his races in 06 and was confirmed as Heidfeld’s team mate for 2007.
A rough start to the 2007 season saw Kubica retire from the Australian GP and only manage 18th in Malaysia, while his team mate was making hay with 3 consecutive 4th place finishes. The pressure was on, but he responded with 3 strong point scoring races.
Crash In Canada (2007)
But perhaps Kubica will best remember 07 for his horrific crash at the Canadian GP where he hit the barrier down at the hairpin whilst doing 180 mph. He was knocked unconscious in the crash as the car flailed across the track dropping debris everywhere. He was air lifted to a local hospital where he was treated for concussion and bruising. Although he was keen to get back in the car he was advised to sit out the following GP at Indianapolis, where he was deputised for by 19 year old Sebastian Vettel.
Kubica returned to racing at the French GP in July, showing no ill effects of his crash and finished a strong 4th. This started a run of 6 consecutive points paying results. BMW and Kubica had showed a dramatic up turn in form during 2007 and although the Pole had been beaten by his much more experienced team mate, all eyes were on 2008 for Kubica to put in something special.
A strong start to the season saw Kubica finish 2nd in Malaysia & taking his first Pole Position followed up with a 3rd place result in Bahrain. Again pure and simple consistency put Kubica into a position to fight for the championship and by the time of the Canadian GP Kubica was able to win his and BMW Sauber’s maiden GP. A sensational drive by the Pole who capitalised on Hamilton & Raikkonen’s pit lane fiasco, managed to hold of his team mate Heidfeld and put right the mistake of the previous year to taste the winners champagne.
This gave him the lead in the driver’s battle and even by the British GP he was still tide with Raikkonen & Hamilton at the top of the Championship with 48 points. However a lack of development from BMW Sauber saw the teams early season form drop off and as a result Kubica was not able to press his advantage. Although he was still in with a chance of the title even as late as the Japanese GP, ultimately it cost Kubica any real chance of winning it.
Kubica finished the season a strong but distant 4th, having thoroughly embarrassed his team mate in the standings. Podium finishes in Europe, Italy and Japan were the highlights for the Pole in the latter stages of the season. But Kubica’s hopes of winning a title became pinned on the 2009 car as he was confirmed as driving for BMW Sauber alongside Heidfeld again in 2009.
Kubica endured a torrid season however; initially he looked strong and at the Australian GP after running a strong 3rd, a collision with 2nd placed Vettel saw an end to both their races. It wasn’t until the 7th round in Turkey that Kubica managed to score his first points of 2009. Things did not improve from there. In mid July BMW went onto announce their departure from F1 at the end of the season, leaving the Pole without a drive going into 2010. A strong drive at the Brazilian GP saw Kubica score his one and only podium of the season by finishing 2nd. Kubica finished the season 14th with only 17 points.
With Kubica without a seat, Renault were very quick to sign the Polish driver for 2010.