Robert Kubica will make his return to Formula One with Williams just eight years after a crash which almost cost him his right hand.
The 33-year-old suffered serious injuries in an accident in the Ronde di Andorra in 2011, but has since adapted his driving style to lead with his left.
Here, we take a look at five more sports stars who returned from serious illness or injury to reach the top.
He did not exactly go on to cover himself in glory. But the disgraced American cyclist staged a remarkable recovery from advanced testicular cancer. Diagnosed in 1996, he was disease-free and fourth at the Vuelta a Espana two years later. The rest is unfortunate history.
The Manchester fighter’s initial bid for the WBA lightweight title had to be scrapped in January 2015 when he suffered a fractured skull trying to fend off burglars. Six months later he was back in the ring to earn a split decision draw with Darleys Perez and, in a November rematch, Crolla knocked out Perez to take the title.
The then-Chelsea goalkeeper suffered serious head injuries in a clash with Reading’s Stephen Hunt in a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge in October 2006. Although doctors said the injury almost cost Cech his life, he was back in goal three months later, and continues to wear a protective cap to this day.
Austria’s skiing superstar almost lost a leg in a motorcycle accident in 2001 and his sporting career seemed certain to be over. But he marked his return to competition in January 2003 with victory in a super-G race at Kitzbuhel – and one year later he went on to reclaim his overall world title.
Seles was at the peak of her career when she was stabbed by a spectator midway through a match in 1993. After two years away from the sport, Seles made a welcome and highly successful comeback, going on to win her fourth Australian Open title in Melbourne in 1996.
Kubica, who has not taken part in a grand prix for eight years following the horrific rally crash which left him seriously injured, joins Englishman George Russell at the British team in 2019.
The 33-year-old Polish driver has competed in a series of practice sessions for Williams this year and his promotion to their race team for next season was announced in Abu Dhabi, the venue of his last race back in 2010, on Thursday.
Kubica, whose right arm was partially severed in the rally crash in Italy in February 2011, hailed his return to F1 as “one of the greatest achievements” of his life, admitting the road back to the pinnacle of the sport had seemed “almost impossible”.
He said: “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.
“It has been a challenging journey to make it back to the Formula One 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 One 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 (team principal) Sir Frank (Williams) and (deputy team principal) 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.”
Claire Williams said the team had been “immensely impressed” with Kubica and praised his “strength of character and tenacity to return”.
“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,” she added.
“He has a level of determination that is remarkable to see and he truly embodies the Williams fighting spirit.”
Kubica’s injuries brought a dramatic halt to an F1 career that had already yielded one grand prix victory and seen him hailed as one of the finest talents on the grid.
His slow journey back to F1 began when he returned to rallying before he took part in a series of tests for his former team, Renault, last year.
Kubica then drove for Williams at last year’s post-season test in Abu Dhabi, but the British team opted to take on the Russian rookie Sergey Sirotkin ahead of the Pole.
Kubica was, however, signed to the team as a reserve driver and has been an ever-present at the races this year.
He now replaces Sirotkin and will bring much-needed experience to a team rooted to the foot of the constructors’ championship after one of the worst seasons in their history.
He is also believed to be bringing a substantial boost to Williams’ financial muscle via PKN Orlon, a major Polish oil refiner.
After 20 races over eight grueling months, Formula One heads to Abu Dhabi for the concluding grand prix of the season.
Here, we take a look at five key talking points ahead of Sunday’s race at Yas Marina Circuit.
Lewis Hamilton was given a champion’s welcome when he returned to the Mercedes factory for the first time since sealing his record fifth championship at the Mexican Grand Prix.
The 33-year-old was greeted with a guard of honour by the 900-strong staff at the Mercedes’ headquarters in Northamptonshire following the team’s fifth successive constructors’ championship victory in Brazil.
The team’s latest success means they are now level with Ferrari on five consecutive wins with no team having ever lifted six titles.
The Briton will bid to see out the championship with his 11th win of the season in Abu Dhabi, a track where he has tasted victory on three occasions.
VETTEL PLAYS FOR PRIDE
With both the drivers and constructors championships settled, there is only pride to play for Sebastian Vettel at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday.
Vettel, who led this year’s championship until round eleven in Germany, will be hoping to finish his season on a positive note in the UAE capital.
Following his sixth place finish at the most recent Brazilian Grand Prix, Vettel has struggled in the second half of the season, while Hamilton has excelled.
The 31-year-old is a three-time winner at Yas Marina but has not won at the track since joining Ferrari in 2014. Could this be the year he rediscovers some of that old magic?
ALONSO’S FINAL RACE
Double world champion Fernando Alonso will bring the curtain down on his storied F1 career in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
The 37-year-old is nearing the end of his 17th season in the sport and will race in the Indy 500 next year as he attempts to secure the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.
The Spaniard, a double Monaco Grand Prix winner in 2006 and 2007, won the Le Mans 24 Hours with Toyota in June this year and is tenth in the drivers’ championship standings.
His glittering career has included 32 wins, 22 pole positions, 97 podiums and world championship triumphs in 2005 and 2006, although he has not finished on the podium since joining McLaren in 2015.
With nine top-10s this campaign, Alonso will be bidding to bow out with a formidable finish.
RICCIARDO’S LAST CHANCE
Daniel Ricciardo has emerged as one of the sport’s most likeable figures – but he has looked low on confidence since winning the Monaco Grand Prix way back in May.
At that point of the season, Mercedes and Ferrari were circling for his signature, but he ended up signing a long-term deal with Renault – a team who have not secured a podium since the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2011.
There is no guarantee the Australian will slot straight into the Renault and challenge the big three, especially with his teammate Nico Hulkenberg producing some solid performances this season and unable to threaten a top four finish.
Without a podium since May, adding to his eight retirements, this could potentially be the last chance for 29-year-old Ricciardo to walk on top of the steps and celebrate a top three finish.
MORE EXCITEMENT NEEDED
Formula One’s season-ending fixture has come under criticism in recent years for its lack of action and failure to deliver an exciting race.
Despite a spectacular setting at Yas Marina, drivers have felt the track isn’t challenging enough to be the final race on the calendar.
Hamilton called for changes to be made to the 3.4-mile circuit last year while Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen labelled it ‘boring’.
The Yas Marina circuit joined the F1 calendar in 2009 and has acted as the season finale venue for every season expect 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Valtteri Bottas became the fifth different winner of the race by converting his pole position into victory last season, while Hamilton and Vettel share three wins each.