Robert Kubica’s return to a Formula One racing seat has caused a lot of conversation in the last few days, after Williams confirmed the 33-year-old Pole will partner George Russell for them in 2019.
It marks a remarkable comeback for Kubica, who hasn't raced competitively in Formula One since 2010, after a near-fatal rally accident seriously injured him, leaving him with a partially severed right arm.
Fans have been happy to see Kubica back in a race seat, and hope that he can get somewhere close to the form that saw him sign a pre-contract with Ferrari before his awful accident put an end to that move.
In those eight years since his last competitive race, Kubica has climbed back into rally cars and most amazingly single seaters, finally making his way back into a Formula One car in 2016, testing for Renault, before almost landing the Williams race seat this season, but having to settle for a test driver role instead.
It seems his pace in testing, and lack of progress made by young Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin has led Williams to believe he is the man to drive them forwards next season, alongside young British sensation George Russell.
The deal to bring young Mercedes driver Russell into the team has been praised by many, with the young Brit sitting as the F2 Championship leader and current reigning GP3 champion.
Talk in the paddock has obviously shifted to the news of Kubica’s race return, with Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso amongst those delighted to see their former rival return to the grid for 2019.
When Hamilton was quizzed about his thoughts about the Pole’s return, he said he ‘was happy’ for him to be back, whilst he was also seemingly as happy realising Kubica is older than him!
“Is Robert older than me?!” Hamilton quizzed when asked for reaction to the news.
“Oh perfect,” was his reply when it was confirmed to him that he is indeed younger than his Polish rival.
“I am so happy he’s coming back. Fernando [Alonso] is leaving and I was going to be the second oldest driver, but now I can remain third.
"I can’t tell you how happy I am about that.”
Outgoing two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso is 37-years-old, and Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen is 39, being the oldest man on the grid next season.
Five-time World Champion Hamilton welcomed the news as great for the sport, and was clearly happy for Kubica, a man that he had great battles with on the track in seasons gone by.
“I raced him from karting days so I have known him for a long, long time,” said Hamilton.
“He was always a one of the most talented drivers that I have had the pleasure of racing.
“He’s had a really difficult time for the last who knows how many years now and it’s just great to see that he’s got the opportunity back and I hope he works hard on his strength and getting his mind back into gear like he was in the past.
“I think it’s exciting for the sport to see him back in action.”
Two-time World Champion and Triple-crown chasing Fernando Alonso, who is a long-term friend of Kubica, described him as “one of the great talents” when asked for his opinion on the return.
“It remains to be seen what will be the performance of the car, and his own performance because we only saw a couple of tests but if he is 100 per cent he will be amazing to watch,” explained the retiring Alonso.
Whilst fantastic news to see Kubica on the grid for next season, he and George Russell have a mammoth task on their hands to develop the Williams car and drag it away from the rear of the grid.
There is no doubt that former world champions Williams have the capability to move further up the field, and with Kubica’s racing knowledge and Russell’s enthusiasm and willingness to learn, they have a great platform to build on.