Lewis Hamilton hailed Robert Kubica among the finest drivers he has ever raced against after the Pole announced his brief return to Formula One will conclude at the end of the year.
Kubica, 34, completed one of sport’s most remarkable comebacks by securing a seat on the grid eight years after he nearly died in a rally crash.
One month before the start of the 2011 season, Kubica, then regarded among the stars of his generation, severed his right arm and sustained multiple fractures in the life-threatening accident.
Kubica’s aspirations of a driving again in F1 appeared improbable, but the Pole worked tirelessly to return to the cockpit and after landing a reserve seat with Williams in 2018, he secured a full-time drive for the British team this year.
Kubica, however, has struggled for form, propping up the field in his under-competitive Williams and off the pace of his rookie team-mate, the Briton George Russell. He has scored the team’s only point of the campaign, finishing 10th in Germany.
“Robert is one of the most talented drivers I have competed against,” said Hamilton, one month younger than Kubica.
“We started racing karts together in 1997 and from the beginning I saw the talent that he had.
“What is really remarkable is the strength and determination he has shown, particularly following his incident. Not a lot of people could make it through those circumstances, make it back into the sport, and deliver against others who have not been in the same situation.
“It has been great to have him back. I hope he stays and there is a position for him next year.”
Despite Hamilton’s plea, Kubica has next to no chance of securing a seat for 2020. A simulator role at another team seems his best option.
“I am not really the kind of guy who is proud, but it has been a long journey and extremely hard for me,” said Kubica.
“It has been the biggest achievement of my life to come back to F1. It was the best final period I could deserve and I could imagine.
“But I have to do what will bring me back a lot of joy. It has purely been my decision and I will evaluate different opportunities.”
Hamilton will be bidding to increase his 63-point championship lead at the sport’s spectacular night race here in Singapore.
The Mercedes star admitted he will be seeking advice from his team about the poor air quality affecting the city state caused by forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia.
The pollution levels improved from “unhealthy” to “moderate” on Thursday, but there are suggestions the situation could deteriorate.
“We all have doctors on hand,” added Hamilton. “I have been told not to go running outside because it will not be great for me.
“I am not sure how it will impact us in the race, but I will speak to the team about it.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Lewis Hamilton’s almost inevitable march to a sixth world championship has been given another boost after it was revealed Max Verstappen will start this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix from the back of the field.
Verstappen is Hamilton’s closest non-Mercedes challenger for the title, 87 points adrift of the Briton.
But just days after he crashed out on the opening lap of the Belgian Grand Prix, it emerged that an engine penalty will demote the Dutchman down the grid for Sunday’s race in Monza.
Red Bull’s engine supplier, Honda, have introduced a new engine for the 14th round of the campaign, and Verstappen’s former team-mate, Pierre Gasly, now racing for the junior team, Toro Rosso, will also be penalised for taking on the revised power unit.
Hamilton is 65 points clear of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas with just eight rounds remaining. Like Bottas, Verstappen has won twice this season.
Charles Leclerc registered Ferrari’s first win of the campaign in Belgium last time out, and the Italian team are expected to fare well in front of their home supporters this weekend.
Leclerc and team-mate Sebastian Vettel will both appear in Thursday’s press conference in Monza to preview the final round of the European season.
Lewis Hamilton secured an unlikely pole position for the German Grand Prix after a double mechanical blow for Ferrari.
The Italian team had been fastest throughout practice at Hockenheim, but after an engine problem prevented Vettel from setting a lap time, a fuel-system issue then hit Leclerc’s car.
Vettel will start his home race from the back of the grid, with team-mate Leclerc set to line up in 10th.
In the absence of both Ferrari drivers, championship leader Hamilton romped to the front to take pole. This, despite Mercedes having struggled for pace all weekend.
The British driver will be joined on the front row by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Valtteri Bottas will line up from third.
Mercedes have played second fiddle to Ferrari here, with the red cars heading into qualifying having topped all three practice sessions.
But disaster struck from the outset. In the opening minutes, Vettel reported a lack of power on his very first outing to the track, and, after returning to his garage, his Ferrari mechanics were unable to rectify the issue.
It is the latest in a succession of blows to Vettel, who would have expected to be in contention for pole at his home race, and end a winless streak which stretches back to last August’s Belgian Grand Prix.
In Vettel’s absence, Leclerc was the overwhelming favourite to claim the third pole of his career.
But, ahead of Q3 – the shoot-out for pole – Ferrari mechanics were scurrying all over the back of the Monegasque’s car. Under-fire team principal Mattia Binotto was seen pacing the garage.
With a handful of minutes remaining, Leclerc emerged from his cockpit, the issue terminal.
That paved the way for Hamilton to take pole, finishing a third of a second clear of Verstappen.
“I don’t know how we did it today,” said Hamilton. “I am not sure what happened to the Ferrari’s. This is a second home grand prix for us so it is incredible to celebrate with this.
“Ferrari have been really fast, and they were on another level, but the time at the end would have been close to compete with Leclerc if he had set a lap.”
On a poor weekend for Lando Norris, the British teenager was eliminated from Q1 for the first time in his career.
The 19-year-old, who has been second-best to Carlos Sainz in the sister McLaren throughout practice, finished only 16th. Sainz lines up in seventh.
British rookie George Russell out-qualified Robert Kubica for a 11th consecutive time. The young Englishman finished a tenth clear of his team-mate, and is set to start from 18th.