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Published: 09:21 | 22/11/18

Kubica secures Williams seat


Robert Kubica will make his full-time return to Formula 1 with Williams in 2019, eight years after suffering "life-changing" injuries in a rally accident.

The Pole crashed into a church wall during the 2011 Ronde di Andora rally and suffered severe damage to his right hand, arm and leg, and needed a partial amputation of his forearm.

Having driven in last year's test at Valencia, he emerged as a candidate to succeed Felipe Massa at Williams but was overlooked in favour of Sergey Sirotkin and was subsequently appointed the team's reserve and development driver.

In recent months he held talks with Ferrari over becoming their development driver but he has rejected the opportunity to move to the Scuderia and will make his full-time return to the grid for Williams alongside George Russell.

"Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has helped me during what was a difficult period of my life over these last few years,” said Kubica.

“It has been a challenging journey to make it back to the Formula 1 grid, but what seemed almost impossible is now beginning to feel possible, as I am excited to be able to say that I will be on the Formula 1 grid in 2019.

“For sure, it has been a long road to get to this point, but as that challenge now comes to an end with this announcement, a new challenge begins working with Williams on track. It will not be easy, but with hard work and dedication, both George and myself will work together to try and help the team get in better shape to move further up the grid. This year has been tough, but I have learnt a lot, and I’d like to thank Sir Frank [Williams] and Claire [Williams] for this opportunity.

“Being back on the F1 grid next season will be one of the greatest achievements of my life, and I’m sure with hard work and commitment we will be able to help motivate the team to achieve good things together. Thank you again to everyone who has supported me and believed in me. I will finally be back on the grid behind the wheel of an F1 car, and I cannot wait to get back racing.”

Kubica made his Formula 1 debut in 2006 and he has already secured 12 podium finishes, including victory in the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix.

Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams commented: “I am delighted to announce that Robert will be stepping up to the role of Race Driver to partner George in 2019. All of us at Williams have been immensely impressed at what he has achieved, and it is a great credit to his strength of character and tenacity to return to Formula One.

“During this season his commitment to the team and the work he has put in behind the scenes has been unwavering, and he has become an established and much respected member of the Williams team. He has a level of determination that is remarkable to see; and he truly embodies the Williams fighting spirit.

“Having the consistency of Robert stepping up into this new role will be an important step for us as we look to fight our way back towards the front of the field. I am also excited to have a mixture of youth and experience to lead us into 2019 and we look forward to seeing what they can achieve on track.

“I would also like to thank Lance [Stroll] and Sergey for their hard work in what has been a challenging season. We wish them all the best for their future careers.”

The 2018 Formula 1 comes to a close at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from November 23-25 with coverage live on eir sport [Race 1.10pm Irish time]. Subscribe here

Image: Getty Images/Mark Thompson

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