Robert Kubica: he’s just won his first Grand Prix, he’s a megastar in his native Poland, and he’s still only 13 points off the world championship lead.
Whether or not he’s world championship-winning material hardly seems to be a debate any more. But who will he driving for in the future, and what is his best chance of getting into a championship-winning car?
Renault must rue letting Kubica slip through their fingers. After he won the World Series by Renault he tested one of their F1 cars but was signed by Mario Theissen. He made his F1 debut at the Hungaroring in 2006 and would have scored but was disqualified for being fractionally underweight.
Within three races he was on the podium and last year he bounced back from a horror shunt at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and might have won at Shanghai had he not suffered a rare failure.
Earlier this year I picked him as the best driver of the first half of the season. He gelled with BMW’s F1.08 right from the off – he finished in the top five in the first eight races, except at Melbourne, when he was hit by Kazuki Nakajima after having run a strong second.
Kubica’s journey to F1 from Poland – a country not endowed with the kind of motor racing structure found in Britain – underlines the strength of his determination. He spent much of his junior career in Italy, and unlike contemporaries Lewsi hamilton and Nico Rosberg he didn’t have the support of a top F1 team or a dad with a world championship title to help him towards his goal.
He admits he has found it hard to get used to his stardom at home and it’s clear just how strong the support for Kubica is in Poland. Over a third of the fans at the Hungaroring had come over from Poland, and tens of thousands poured onto this website from several Polish sites just to cast their vote for him as their favourite driver.
Despite all this, BMW are yet to take up an option on his services for 2009. They are believed to have until the end of September to make their call.
Rumours have suggested he, along with Fernando Alonso, is being targeted by Ferrari for their 2010 line-up. But BMW have moved steadily forward since taking over Sauber in 2006, so should he think about moving or stay put?
Read more about Robert Kubica: Robert Kubica biography