While there’s no way to know the level of performance Robert Kubica will reach in his full racing return with Williams, Paddy Lowe says the ‘proper driver’ is already having a positive impact on the team.
“It’s really been terrific to have him working with us already, and he’s a great team member,” Lowe told RACER. “Everybody loves Robert — in the office, in the garage… I remember when he first turned up the mechanics saying ‘Yeah, that’s a proper driver!’
“He’s just one of the old-school guys who kind of knows how it works, and that brings a certain element to what we do. I think this will be a fantastic combination with the rookie George [Russell] on the other side.”
This year’s Australian Grand Prix will be Kubica’s first grand prix start since the final race of 2010, with the Pole having suffered severe injuries in a rally accident in February 2011. Kubica returned to an F1 car in 2017 and was Williams’ reserve last year before being promoted to a race seat.
Lowe saw Kubica’s potential many years earlier and efforted to get him to McLaren.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Robert for many years,” Lowe said. “There was a time at McLaren when I was pushing to try and get him in there. I’m a bit confused in my mind which year it was, so it was probably to get him in there either in 2008 or 2009.
“At McLaren we lost [Fernando] Alonso in 2007, so that would have been a vacancy. So it was either that or whether we were reconsidering whether to keep Heikki [Kovalainen] or not the following year.
“I can’t remember but there was a time I was pushing really hard to get him in the car because he was clearly an outstanding prospect. Unfortunately we didn’t do it.”
Lowe says there is no way to tell how much Kubica will improve with regular races.
“Where it will go with performance, I think even Robert would say we don’t know. He’s very determined and a remarkable character to make this return. I think we all know why, it’s admirable for that. We’re all looking forward to seeing how it turns out, but we don’t really know and that’s part of the interest and the excitement, particularly from the Polish!
“He hasn’t even been driving and they’ve been some of the most committed fans across in the grandstand with flags in the rain and everything, and he’s not even driving! Every race there are groups of Polish, I meet them all and they want autographs and everything.”
However, Lowe says there is no trepidation surrounding the return as Williams is already convinced by the performance level Kubica has shown in the car to date.
“I think we might have had that before, but now that’s our commitment and we go 1000% around that. I don’t think anybody’s thinking with any nervousness. Robert’s our race driver, he’s 100% and we’re going to work with him without any other thoughts.”