Vettel questions timing of Kubica comeback
5 December 2017 – Sebastian Vettel has questioned the timing of Robert Kubica's comeback bid, saying "it would be a pity for younger drivers" if he landed a seat, despite the "nice story".
Kubica raced in Formula 1 from 2006 to 2010 but a serious rally crash in early 2011 cut short his career, as he sustained severe injuries to his right arm.
He rebuilt his career in rallying, taking the 2013 WRC2 title, and operated his own team from 2014 through to early 2016, competing in the top WRC class.
Kubica switched his focus to circuit races, participating in the Mugello 12 Hours, a round of the Renault Sport Trophy, and intended to compete in the WEC with ByKolles, before withdrawing.
Kubica has since been exploring a Formula 1 comeback, testing six times, the last three with Williams, most recently in Abu Dhabi last week, in the 2017-spec FW40.
He drove alongside Renault reserve Sergey Sirotkin, 22, at the Yas Marina Circuit, as Williams continues to evaluate its options to partner incumbent Lance Stroll.
Although impressed by Kubica's personal story, Vettel has questioned why the Pole, who will turn 33 on Thursday, did not explore a comeback earlier.
In an interview with Swiss newspaper Blick, Vettel commented: "I think it's very tragic what happened to him back then, he was considered a future champion.
"However, I do not understand why he is now pushing for a comeback. Why did he not do this earlier?
"For him it would certainly be a nice story, [but] on the other hand, it would be a pity for younger drivers, from whom he would take away a cockpit."
Kubica has also made clear that he should not receive a "discount" for his story.
"A lot of things were written, and talked lately, I think it's a bit normal as there are a lot of question marks, and everybody has their own opinion," he said.
"I think there are a lot of people [who are] wishing, or would like to see me back because of the story.
"In the end the story is nice but there are no discounts for the story, I have to make sure if I get the chance I have to be ready and I have to be as prepared as I can if something is coming.
"I appreciate it [the support] because I think there is a lot of hope, there [are] a lot of wishes of a lot of people.
"But in the end I know how is reality, and the reality is like this: once I'm in the car there is no story anymore, it is me with the car, with the team and the job has to be done."
Vettel made his Formula 1 debut as a stand-in for the injured Kubica at BMW Sauber at the 2007 United States Grand Prix, following several test and practice runs.