2023 is holding big changes in store for Alfa Romeo Racing, both in terms of management and sponsors. Frederic Vasseur’s was not the only farewell, because the departure of PKN Orlen, one of the main partners of the Swiss team since the 2020 season, has been added to that of the former Team Principal.
Andreas Seidl and Alessandro Alunni Bravi were not caught unprepared, quickly securing a new title partner not only for the championship which will kick off in a few weeks, but also for the coming seasons by signing a multi-year contract.
The rumors regarding a possible departure of Orlen had already emerged in the last months of the last world championship, leaving Alfa Romeo looking for a new sponsor who could guarantee a good economic compensation, an aspect which then materialized with the arrival of stakes.
Orlen had entered Formula 1 in 2019, supporting Robert Kubica’s return to the top-class with Williams before moving to Alfa Romeo the following year. With no factory driver’s seat available, given the presence of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, the Pole had assumed the reserve role for testing and some free practice sessions, holding that position for three seasons.
However, Kubica had the opportunity to test the track again in 2021, when he replaced Raikkonen in the Dutch and Italian GPs after the latter tested positive for COVID-19. But with the breakdown of the partnership between Orlen and the Swiss team, Robert will hardly remain in Alfa Romeo as a tester and, most likely, this time he will not follow the sponsor who in the meantime has chosen to enter into a collaboration with AlphaTauri.
Kubica cut ties with Alfa Romeo at the end of last season and will not have the opportunity to drive for the Faenza-based company, Motorsport.com has learned, meaning the FP1 session in Abu Dhabi will be probably his last “official” appearance in an F1 car.
When asked by Motorsport.com during that weekend at Yas Marina about Orlen’s plans, Kubica replied: “I don’t know, I don’t want to speak for the others. I don’t do budgets, I’m not in their boat. So of course, like I said, I have to take care of my homework, my things, and that’s my priority.”
Robert Kubica at the wheel of the Alfa Romeo during the first free practice session of Abu Dhabi 2022
Photo by: Erik Junius
“Probably, then I’ll talk to the parties, whatever it is. If it’s this team or another one, to see if I can get involved, if I can be useful, because I don’t even want to be here if I’m not useful.”
During the interview, Kubica had also explained how his perspective on the matter was extremely realistic, being aware that his age could be a limiting factor, even though a flame of hope always remains lit: “I’m calm. In the end I’ve always been “Very realistic. Let’s be honest. At 38 it’s not surprising if you don’t get a seat anymore. There are too many ifs, so we wait, see and react.”
“I think my story goes to show you never say never, of course. To be honest, the only reason I’m still here is that I sometimes get the chance to drive (an F1 car), and certainly the day in which I will no longer have the opportunity to drive a car, it will probably be the end”, added the Pole.
In recent years, however, Kubica has achieved significant results in the LMP2 class of the Endurance Championship, winning the European Le Mans Series title at the first attempt in 2021 with the WRT team and then came close to a prestigious victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
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