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Robert Kubica Proves Skeptics Wrong in Monaco

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Robert Kubica’s return to Formula One was not an easy journey, and the first few rounds of the 2019 season were not particularly good to him either. He has so far finished behind teammate George Russell six times out of six, which is not ideal for any F1 driver, least of all one trying to prove he still has the speed that made him such a prize before injury drove him out.

But there have been mitigating factors, led by the underperformance of the Williams F1 team, that have made it difficult to properly identify exactly how Russell and Kubica stack up and, more importantly, how they compare to the rest of the grid.

However, Kubica will be glad to have laid at least one concern to rest. When it became clear he was attempting a comeback to F1, the Monaco Grand Prix was cited as a place where he might struggle, particularly in the Fairmont Hairpin, because of physical limitations. In 2011, Kubica had been severely injured in a rallying crash, leaving his hand permanently damaged and with restricted movement. But he looked quick around the narrow circuit.

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“I knew I would be fine here,” Kubica said. “I think overall a lot of people thought I would not even be able to turn the steering wheel…People said that Turn 1 would be an issue for me, and I think in all the races I did pretty well in Turn 1, or on the opening lap, where there is a kind of racing instinct, and it’s only due to that rather than something else.”

Kubica’s first lap at the 2019 Monaco GP was indeed strong: He passed teammate Russell and then Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, managed to get ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg when the two clashed, and was able to pip Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez by pitting under the safety car.

He was running 15th when Giovinazzi spun him around with a nudge, dropping him down to 18th and behind his teammate again. The day before, in qualifying, he had looked quick enough to beat his teammate as well, but traffic during his out-lap prevented him from getting the sensitive Pirelli tires in the right temperature window. Clearly, results don’t show everything.

“In this not easy situation I think I did pretty well, and I can be happy. Of course the final result could have been better, but that’s how it is with racing.”

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