Jacques Villeneuve admits he was never in favour of Robert Kubica making a return to Formula 1 action after an eight-year absence, and reckons his initial opinion is being proved right as the Pole is “clearly slower” than his team-mate, rookie George Russell.
Kubica was a promising young driver in his debut years, but his career was temporarily halted after he lost part of his forearm in a rally car accident in 2011. Since then, he has been working hard to rehabilitate, and made his incredible return to full-time racing for the 2019 season as Williams announced him as the partner of Russell.
However, it hasn’t worked out for team nor driver, as Kubica has comfortably been the slowest driver on the grid this campaign. Even Russell, who is in the same car, has outperformed him in every single qualifying session so far.
Villeneuve, who has previously criticsed the decision of Williams to recruit Kubica, thinks the performances of the driver show that he is no longer an “elite” competitor.
“I was not a fan of him returning,” he told TVP Sport.
“For me Formula One is for the elite, it is for the absolute best. The only thing that counts is that Robert is clearly slower than his team-mate, who is after all a debutant.
“Results matter here.”
There has been some speculation that Kubica and Russell may have slightly different car set-ups with Williams, and although Villeneuve admits it is a possibility, it is not likely.
“I do not know. I’m not in the team,” he responded when asked if the cars were different,
“You can not see everything from the outside. But such situations in Formula 1 are not likely to happen. These cars are very similar to each other.
“I do not know … maybe the settings don’t match Robert’s style, and they suit Russell.
“So yes, of course it can be.”