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Kubica makes F1 return

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 02/08/2017 skysports.com
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Robert Kubica has driven the 2017 Renault for the first time as he continues his remarkable return to Formula 1 on day two of the Hungary Test.

The Pole has driven their 2012 car twice already this year in private tests but this is his first public run in F1 since suffering career-changing injuries in a rally crash in 2011.

After an opening stint in which he improved by over two seconds over the space of five flying laps, Kubica posted a best time of 1:20.327 in the opening 90 minutes of running.

While fuel levels in testing are an unknown quantity, that lap was 1.2 seconds faster than the fastest laps managed by Renault's current race drivers Jolyon Palmer and Nico Hulkenberg managed in Sunday's Hungarian GP.

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Kubica's performance on Wednesday is seen as the final measure as to whether he will be able to make a full return to the sport in 2018.

On announcing his participation in the test, Renault confirmed it was in order to determine whether "it would be possible for Robert to return to competition in the upcoming years".

The 32-year-old completed the FIA's mandatory extraction test at the start of the week, overcoming fears the severe injures he suffered to his right arm would hamper his ability to exit an F1 car in under five seconds.

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Kubica was in the Hungaroring paddock on Tuesday when development driver Nicholas Latifi drove the Renault - the first time he had returned to an F1 paddock since his horrific crash in February 2011.

The former BMW and Lotus driver was widely tipped as a future world champion before his one-off participation in an Italian rally between pre-season F1 tests dramatically changed the course of his career.

Just three days after setting the pace at 2011's opening pre-season test, Kubica crashed into a church wall during the Ronde di Andora rally and suffered extensive damage to his right hand, arm and leg. He underwent several hours of surgery and suffered a partial amputation of his forearm.

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With the restricted movement of his arm initially prohibiting him from driving a single-seater again, Kubica made his competitive return in World Rally in 2013 before racing on circuits again last year.

In June, Kubica drove 115 laps in a private test at Valencia in the 2012 E20 car before completing 90 laps at Paul Ricard on the Wednesday before the British GP in a test which was designed "to extensively evaluate his driving capabilities".

Between those two test, Kubica told Sky F1 he was targeting a "proper comeback" after being encouraged by his performance in his first comeback in Valencia.

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Don't miss the F1 Report on Wednesday at 8.30pm on Sky F1 as Formula 2 driver Jordan King and Craig Slater join Natalie Pinkham to review the Hungarian GP.

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