Thursday, January 27, 2011

Robert Kubica

Robert Józef Kubica (born December 7, 1984 in Kraków, Poland) is the first Polish racing driver to compete in Formula One. Between 2006 and 2009 he drove for the BMW Sauber F1 team, promoted from test driver to race driver during 2006. In June 2008, Kubica took his maiden F1 victory in the Canadian Grand Prix, becoming the 99th driver to win a World Championship race. For the 2010 season, Kubica was racing for Renault. Kubica developed his love for all kinds of cars at the young age of four when he spotted a small off-road vehicle, powered by a 4 bhp (3.0 kW) petrol engine. After long talks with his parents, his father, Artur, bought him the car and young Kubica spent long hours driving around plastic bottles. When he got older it became apparent that he needed better equipment, so his father bought him a go-kart. However, Kubica was too young to start racing in the Polish Karting Championship as he was under the age of ten. When he entered the championship, he won six titles in three years. After his third season, Kubica decided to switch to a more competitive league in Italy. In 1998 Kubica became the first foreigner to win the International Italian Junior Karting Championship. Kubica also scored second place in the European Junior Karting Championship and won the Junior Monaco Kart Cup held on part of the Formula One Grand Prix track. A year later, he defended his title in Italy and also competed in the International German Karting Championship. He also won the Monaco Kart Cup for the second time in a row, as well as the Margutti Trophy and Elf Masters races. In 2000, his last season in karting, Kubica scored fourth places in both the European and World Championships.

Robert Kubica On-board

Kubica started his professional career in 2000, as a test driver for a Formula Renault 2000 car. During his first professional season in Formula Renault, Kubica scored his maiden pole position and also became a member of Renault's driver development programme. In 2002 Kubica won four races and scored a second place in the Italian Formula Renault 2000. He was also seventh in the Formula Renault Eurocup. At the end of the year he took part in a Brazilian Formula Renault 2000 race held at the Interlagos circuit. This one-off appearance resulted in a dominant win. After Formula Renault, Kubica moved to the Formula Three Euro Series. However, his move was delayed by a road accident which left him with a broken arm, and titanium screws holding it together. At his delayed debut at Norisring, Kubica, driving with a plastic brace and 18 titanium bolts in his arm, won the race. He finished the season in 12th place. At the end of the year, Kubica won a street race in Sardinia and came fifth in races held in Macau and Korea. He ended his second season in the Formula 3 Euro Series, spent with the factory Mercedes team, in 7th position. In November 2004, he scored pole position in the Macau F3 Grand Prix, where he broke the lap record, but finished second in the race. In 2005 he won the World Series by Renault championship with the Epsilon Euskadi team, earning Formula One tests with Renault.

Kubica moved to the Renault team for 2010. His position was briefly put in doubt, however, by the team evaluating its future in the sport following the 2009 season in the wake of the "Crashgate" scandal and the parent company's financial problems. This resulted in a Luxembourg-based investment firm, Genii Capital, taking a 75% stake in the team; Renault retaining the remaining 25%. Eric Boullier was also appointed as the new team manager. Kubica said he might not stay with Renault, as his contract was only valid if the parent company had a controlling stake in the team, but he then decided to remain with them. On 31 January 2010, it was announced that Vitaly Petrov was to be Kubica's team-mate. It was reported in Autosport that Ferrari driver Felipe Massa had until the 2010 British Grand Prix to prove the Maranello outfit that he is worth hanging onto or Kubica could take his seat in 2011. However Ferrari re-signed Massa for 2011, leaving Kubica without a seat at the Italian team. On 7 July 2010, it was confirmed that Kubica had extended his contract with Renault to 2012. At the opening race of the 2010 season in Bahrain, Kubica was tagged by Adrian Sutil and spun on the opening lap but recovered to 11th. At the next race in Australia, he finished second after starting in ninth position. Fourth in Malaysia and fifth in China left him in seventh place in the drivers' championship, 20 points behind championship leader Jenson Button. Kubica felt that had there not been a second safety car period in China he could have finished on the podium. In Spain he finished eighth, but followed this up with another podium in Monaco, holding third throughout after losing second at the start to Sebastian Vettel. At the Turkish Grand Prix, he was held up behind Nico Rosberg for the second time in the season after Malaysia, and finished sixth. In Canada, Kubica finished seventh after an eventful race and problems with tyre degradation which made his race difficult, but did set the first fastest lap of his career in the race's closing stages. He added a fifth in Valencia and seventh in Germany before taking his third podium of the season in Belgium. He was competitive throughout the weekend, qualifying third, and only a bungled pitstop cost him second to Mark Webber. In Singapore, he qualified eighth in front of Schumacher. During the late stages of the race, he was forced to pit from sixth place due to a puncture. He was released from the pits to twelfth place, but with the help from superior grip and a series of overtaking moves—his move against Sutil was favourably compared to the incident between Webber and Hamilton—was able to claim seventh place, ultimately gaining a place from his qualifying result. In Suzuka, he managed to trail the Red Bulls throughout the weekend and translated it into a strong third place in Sunday qualifying. However, despite getting a good start and overtaking Webber at the start of the race, but would retire during the safety car period after losing one of his rear tyres. Formula One journalist Mark Hughes remarked that Kubica is currently "arguably the best driver", considering the season so far. He emphasised Kubica's strong showing in tracks where Hughes believes that the differences in driver skills are able to overwhelm the differences in the capability of the cars; namely, Monaco, Spa and Suzuka. Kubica managed to finish on the podium behind the Red Bulls except in Suzuka where he was strong throughout the weekend nevertheless, despite retiring from the race through no fault of his own.

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