Robert Kubica eill line up on the grid at the Australian Grand Prix. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)
Robert Kubica eill line up on the grid at the Australian Grand Prix. (Photo by Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP)

F1 star back from death’s door

DANIEL Ricciardo will be making his debut for a new team and defending champion Lewis Hamilton starts his campaign for a sixth world title.

And there's a new young gun in the famous Ferrari red.

But none of those really come close to the best story on the grid at the Australian Grand Prix this weekend.

Enter Robert Kubica and his remarkable return to Formula One that easily has a place among sport's great comeback tales.

The 34-year-old Polish driver, who will race for Williams in 2019, will make his return to the sport eight years after a serious rally accident that could have killed him.

Kubica suffered a partially severed right arm and other injuries, including fractures to his right elbow, shoulder and leg, after crashing into a barrier while driving in a rally in Italy in February, 2011.

Operations, a lengthy hospital stay and rehabilitation followed, putting in doubt Kubica's chances of ever racing again. But he never gave up on his dream of returning to the F1 grid again.

Robert Kubica in his new Williams ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
Robert Kubica in his new Williams ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

"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," Kubica said about his return.

"For sure, it has been a long road to get to this point ... being back on the F1 grid will be one of the greatest achievements of my life.''

Former Australian Formula One star Mark Webber remembered visiting Kubica in the hospital after the accident and described his comeback as "uniquely special".

"I was at his hospital bedside about a week or so after the accident and I just couldn't believe my eyes,'' Webber said.

"We were hoping that, first of all, he was going to survive, which he did, but the injuries that his body went through, the brutality that his limbs took is just staggering that he came out of it the way that he did.

"Then he just had this mental resolve and steely determination to drive again ... he has come back from a life-or-death situation and he is back in Formula One.

Robert Kubica is ready to race.
Robert Kubica is ready to race.

"He is obviously going to be towards the back because of the package he is in, but all of us drivers have the utmost respect for Robert. There will not be a driver that has done north of 100 or 150 grand prix criticising what Robert is trying to achieve, it is uniquely special."

Kubica has said that he has had to adapt the way that he drove and held the steering wheel after the injuries that he sustained in the accident.

"After my accident, I discovered that to do a roundabout in the road car, you don't have to grab the steering wheel, you can use friction to turn," he said

"F1 is not a road car, but I have been also in school where they give you a bird in the hand and you have to hold it (so) that it doesn't fly away but you cannot hold it too much that it gets scared.

"This is the way you have to hold the steering wheel."

Robert Kubica has had to adjust how he drives.
Robert Kubica has had to adjust how he drives.

Kubica will this year partner Britain's Formula 2 champion George Russell, who is equally in awe of what Kubica has achieved to get back to Formula One.

"Robert is an amazing guy ... it's an amazing story," Russell said.

"I think he's going to be extremely fast, I think a few people are underestimating what he can do. I have seen him on track, I've seen him in the simulator and I've got no doubt I've got a job on my hands to beat him."