I was selected as an official blogger for the Austosport International Show 2014 – Europe’s largest motosports show, that takes place in January at Birmingham NEC (more info here). As a part of this, I was asked to write an article on who I think is the best driver of my generation…
Being the man with the most championships does not make you the best overall driver, it makes you successful. “Try not to be a man of success, but rather to be a man of value” as Albert Einstein once said. Gilles Villeneuve, Tony Brooks, Carlos Reutemann, Francois Cervert, Ronnie Peterson, Sir Stirling Moss and Rubens Barrichello are all greats who haven’t won the world championship, and I truly believe that Robert Kubica can easily join that list.
12 podium appearances, winner of the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, and a driver who was more than capable of putting any car on the front row, it was clear that Kubica was someone special. He was able to challenge the leaders in an inferior car, and sometimes beat them when it came down to tracks where the driver made the biggest difference (Monaco, Belgium, and Japan). His accident may be preventing him from sitting in the cockpit of an F1 car, but it’s certainly not stopping him from becoming the next best rally driver.
No, he didn’t win as many races as Michael Schumacher or Sebastian Vettel, but it seemed too simple to choose those two, and in some cases, if you can make a name for yourself without the obvious world championships and record breaking achievements, then surely you are someone with an exceptional talent?
Statistics and record braking numbers don’t define how good a driver is. If that were to be case, those who have never won world championships, like those previously mentioned, would look mediocre next to those with multiple titles. Jim Clark is renowned for having the most natural ability ever seen in a driver, and he only has two championships to his name – perhaps less than what he deserved to have.
Kubica was undoubtedly quick, extremely determined and very rarely made mistakes. He was someone who was valuable to a team, that’d work for hours on end with his engineers to perfect every minor detail on his car. His raw pace, work ethic and determination to win, were all qualities that the Polish driver had, and you have to wonder what he would have achieved had Ferrari signed him at the end of 2010.
It’s no wonder that Fernando Alonso once labelled him as the driver he feared most, and it doesn’t stop there. Another highly rated World Champion, by the name of Lewis Hamilton, stated that he was “very tough, but fair”, and the duo as well as Nico Rosberg go way back to their junior karting days. Toto Wolff (Mercedes AMG F1 Team Boss) has also said that Robert’s input has had a significant effect on Mercedes’ recent performance, with the simulator runs being beneficial to both the team and the Pole.
They say the best drivers are those who can get the ultimate out of any car; Kubica was someone who pushed the limits and tried things that not every other driver would do. Natural talent is hard to come by, only few drivers have the special ability to be able to find time in a lap where no one else can (Ayrton Senna springs to mind). Kubica was effortlessly good. He consistently performed well, and never got himself into trouble.
It’s easy to say someone with multiple world championships is a good driver, because the statistics do the talking, but Robert is different, an exception if you will. Success isn’t just about what you accomplish; it’s about what you inspire others to do and the effect you leave on people. Since his rally crash in 2011, Robert has been working really hard to make his comeback, and though it may not become reality, I’d still like to hope that his return is imminent.
Robert Kubica – a Formula 1 World Champion that could have been…