Alfa Romeo reserve driver Robert Kubica is set to take the wheel of the C42 during the first practice session at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The Pole became reserve driver for the Swiss outfit in 2020 after his season at Williams in 2019, during such time he scored a points finish once in 21 races at the crazy German Grand Prix.
He replaced the COVID-struck Kimi Raikkonen in two of the 22 races last season when he raced in the Netherlands Italy, and was out-qualified both times by Antonio Giovinazzi as he finished the races 15th and 14th respectively.
The 37-year-old completed nine laps of running for the Zurich-based team in February when he took part in the first pre-season test in Spain, and set the 21st quickest lap time overall, although he did not contest either of the other two days.
Kubica’s appearances last season were the first time he had made an appearance for the Sauber Group since 2009 when he left BMW Sauber for Renault.
His only points finish in 2006 in his debut year was a podium, and he went on to finish in the top eight another 29 times over the following three seasons, managing eight podiums during his time with the team, including a race win in Canada in 2008, one year after his nasty crash there.
It looked as though a championship challenge might have been on for him that season, but the consistency of Ferrari and McLaren was ultimately his undoing.
Kubica finished in the points in 15 of the 19 races with Renault in 2010, and his three podiums left plenty of promise ahead of the 2011 season alongside Vitaly Petrov, but he suffered horrific injuries in a Rally accident in Italy, ruling him out of the sport for eight years.
The Pole’s 21 appearances since then have all come in the last three years, but Zhou Guanyu will resume his usual spot after FP1 on Friday.
Juri Vips will be running for Red Bull during practice as part of the regulation that states that all teams must run junior drivers on at least two occasions this year to promote young talent and facilitate an easier transition from the junior formulae to the pinnacle of motorsport.
Vips will run in place of Sergio Perez in Spain in what will be his first-ever official outing in an F1 car.