Kubica to deputise again for Raikkonen at Monza

Jon Wilde
Robert Kubica touching earpiece in Alfa Romeo garage. Zandvoort September 2021.

Robert Kubica touching his earpiece in the Alfa Romeo garage at the Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort September 2021.

Kimi Raikkonen has been ruled out of a second consecutive race, the Italian Grand Prix, after testing positive for COVID-19 at Zandvoort.

The veteran Finn, who is retiring from Formula 1 at the end of the season, will again be replaced in the Alfa Romeo by Robert Kubica.

It emerged on the Saturday morning of the Dutch Grand Prix weekend that Raikkonen had returned a positive test for the coronavirus following Friday’s practice sessions.

The 41-year-old was reported to be displaying no symptoms and isolating in his hotel.

However, Alfa Romeo are now saying the 2007 World Champion “is still isolating in his home”.

A statement from the team read: “Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN can confirm that reserve driver Robert Kubica will continue to deputise for Kimi Raikkonen at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

“Kimi missed last week’s race at Zandvoort after testing positive for COVID-19 and has not yet been cleared for a return to racing. As per health authority requirements, he is still isolating in his home.

“Robert, who performed admirably in the Netherlands after stepping in at short notice before FP3, will return to the car alongside Antonio Giovinazzi.”

Kubica started 16th on the grid for the Dutch Grand Prix, with only the two Haas cars slower in qualifying and Sergio Perez and Nicholas Latifi starting from the pit lane.

He finished 15th in the race, one place behind Giovinazzi who had qualified an excellent seventh but suffered an untimely puncture that ruined his hopes of a points finish.

The 36-year-old Pole won the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix for the BMW Sauber team, who are now titled Alfa Romeo, but after his first year with Renault in 2010 he suffered life-changing arm injuries in a rallying accident.

Although he competed in rallying and other classes of racing from 2013 onwards, Kubica did not return to Formula 1 until 2018 as a test driver with Williams. He raced for Williams in 2019, scoring a point at the German Grand Prix.

This year, he has been taking part in the European Le Mans Series while serving as an Alfa Romeo test driver and recorded victories at Barcelona and the Red Bull Ring before being heartbreakingly denied a Le Mans 24-Hour Race class victory due to a final-lap breakdown.

After the Dutch Grand Prix, he said: “Finally I had a few battles, which the last time I probably had the car to fight was 11 years ago in Formula 1 because in the end 2019 was more survival than enjoying. It has been a demanding Sunday for me.”