Robert Kubica’s return to the Formula One scene after his near-fatal experience on the grid in 2011 has been hailed by many as one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history.
Before his injury, which left the driver with a near severed arm, Kubica was a national legend. He became the first ever Polish driver to compete in the Formula One series.
Scare hit Kubica that he would never race on the F1 circuit again after he endured a devastating crash. He was racing in the Ronde di Andora rally for personal enjoyment when his right arm became partially severed. However, even from his hospital bed, the 34-year-old was determined to race again.
Whilst many have applauded this tremendous story, the ever-controversial Jacques Villeneuve has stated that his inclusion in this season’s F1 series sends out the wrong message. Initially, the Canadian did praise his journey, though, and was full of nothing but admiration for the Polish driver.
“It is of course a great achievement that Kubica has returned after so many years, really unbelievable,” the Canadian told Dutch website Formule1.nl, per Planet F1.
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“If you have done something that you love and that you have taken away, you know what you are missing.
“Then you will work even harder to get it back. I am also sure that he will do everything to stay at the top. If I were in his shoes, I would do the same. You should not let such a chance pass.”
Regardless, Villeneuve fears Kubica's return will do more harm than good to the value of the sport.
“I think it’s terrible. This is not good for the sport,” Villeneuve added. “I already said that last year and I am not going to change my opinion. Formula 1 should be the pinnacle of racing, it’s the king class.
“Then it is not good for the sport if anyone with a disability can participate. At least not in Formula 1, perhaps in other classes.
“Formula 1 must be tough, must be difficult and almost unreachable. Robert’s return is not the right message.”
Kubica didn’t get off to the best of starts in his comeback race either. Of the 20 racers, he placed 17th in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and was the last to finish the race (3 DNF’s) with a +3-lap time.
The Bahrain circuit is next up for Kubica this weekend, who will be looking to prove Villeneuve wrong.