Robert Kubica takes a giant step in one of sports great come-backs  The issue that many suspected would arise as a result of the aerodynamic changes was manifestly on display at the Hungaroring. Apart from Ricciardo being nurfed out of the race by an extraordinarily clumsy Verstappen lunge the points for the Hungarian Grand Prix might as well have been awarded after qualifying, as so little overtaking was possible. 

  The only passing manoeuvres in the top six were the Mercedes duo swapping places a couple of times to see if Hamilton was better able than Bottas to make any impression on the Ferraris – which despite his greater pace he wasn’t – and then to give 3rd place back as per the earlier arrangement. The almost impossibility of overtaking was shown most starkly in that Kimi Raikkonen who’s Ferrari was healthy was not able to get close enough to Vettel to even have a lunge despite being vastly quicker due to a steering problem on the German’s car which saw him having to turn the wheel dramatically to the right to keep in a straight line for most of the race.

  Admittedly the problem has been somewhat less this year than expected at most circuits but at the tight and twisty Hungarian circuit the result was a tedious return to the early 90’s when the race was nothing more than a two hour procession and the real battle was fought out in qualifying. If you were quick enough to claim pole position in qualifying then you were just about guaranteed the race win. And in qualifying in Hungary it was even more important as to what car you drove than at most other circuits as most of the field lined up like the animals climbing into Noah’s arc. Two by two by two…you get the drift, even poor old Jolyon Palmer made it into the top ten. Bit of a pity for him he couldn’t maintain that place in the race as he really must now be spending more time looking over his shoulder than down the road at pole.

  And looming over his shoulder is the other Pole. The most interesting thing that occurred in Hungary this year happened three days after the race was completed. On Wednesday one of potentially the greatest sporting come-backs took another step forward when Robert Kubica drove a current Formula One car since his hideous Rallying accident in 2011. If you remember the grizzly details, not only had the Armco barrier speared into his chest but had all but severed his right arm. All of the years of operations and physical therapy and immense mental strength have finally allowed him to return to where he should have always been. And the result? Fourth fastest on the day and sixth overall in the Renault in which Palmer has been struggling so much.

  This fairytail began earlier this year when Robert tested the 2012 Lotus E20 at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo circuit. It was said at the time that it was nothing more than Renault giving him a run in an old car so he could say to himself that he had made it back into a F1 car. Not a real test, just a bit of supportive fun for all concerned. Except he was quite a bit faster that official tester Sergey Sirotkin who had driven the same car the day before. Then very quietly there was another test in the Lotus at Paul Ricard. No times were given although there were now comments about evaluating Kubica’s fitness to assess if he was able to drive one of the current cars which are much more physically demanding. Time was also spent in the Red Bull simulator, of which not much was said by Christian Horner except that it was a Renault matter but that he was “impressed”.

  Then days before the race it was confirmed that Kubica would be replacing Palmer for the test. I’m thinking that Jolyon could hear the clanking of hammer on nails when he got this news. And it wasn’t as if the Pole took it easy on Wednesday. He completed 140 laps over eight hours, a distance of almost two Hungarian Grand Prixs and he set his quickest time late in the day when given a chance on the softer rubber. Kubica claims he was “not 100% satisfied” with the test which shows how much more he thinks he can still get out of himself, but I’m guessing that just about everyone else was completely happy with the way things turned out. Except perhaps poor Jolyon.

  So what odds on a Hulkenberg/Kubica pairing at Renault next year? A more promising line-up is hard to imagine and don’t forget, back when Kubica still had both arms, no less a driver that King Fernando claimed that the Pole was the fastest guy out there. So perhaps Robert will force Alonso to stay at McLaren after all.

Sam Snape