Hulkenberg impressed by Kubica's comeback test

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault
© XPB 

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg has admitted being impressed by Robert Kubica's performance at last week's in-season test at the Hungaroring.

Kubica was making his first appearance in a current specification Formula 1 car since his dramatic accident in a rally in February 2011. Serious injuries to his arm and hand curtailed a promising Formula 1 career at the time.

The 32-year-old has spent years battling his way back to fitness. He since has returned to racing in the World Rally Championship and its European equivalent. Earlier this year he took part in two private tests for Renault in a 2012-spec F1 car at Paul Ricard and Valencia.

Last week's test of the R.S.17 saw Kubica perform better in the car than rookie prospect Nicholas Latifi. The Pole completed 142 laps on Wednesday with a best time of 1:18.572s, compared to Latifi's 1:20.302s the previous day.

Although Hulkenberg himself wasn't present in Hungary, he told Autosport magazine that he had been impressed by Kubica's times.

"I had some information and I obviously saw the lap times," he said. "I think for him personally [it was] obviously a great comeback.

"After the severe accident and injuries he had, to come back and drive a modern Formula 1 car - and to do 140 laps just like that - is quite impressive."

Hulkenberg was particularly struck by Kubica completing so many laps on such a demanding, twisty circuit.

"Especially at a track like Budapest, which is very physical," he agreed. "Respect for that. And I think the performance seemed alright."

Kubica himself said on the day that he was happy with his fitness. However, he admitted that he was "not 100 per cent happy" with how the Hungaroring test had done.

Neither Kubica nor Hulkenberg have any idea of what will happen next. Rumours persist that Kubica could oust Jolyon Palmer from the race seat as soon as Spa.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen, what Renault wants to do, but the test was OK, I think," said Hulkenberg.

As for Kubica, he felt that 2018 was a more realistic prospect for finally returning to the Formula 1 grid, if it was going to happen at all.

"I think if in three months I did improve a lot and moved forward quite a lot, everything can happen in the future," he insisted. "If it doesn't happen I will not be disappointed, because I am looking at this situation very realistically."

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