Robert Kubica has said that for all the mutual “esteem” he shares with Fernando Alonso, beating him in the same car at Ferrari “would not have been difficult” if they joined the team together.
The Polish driver was heavily linked with a move to the Scuderia after impressing in his early days in Formula 1, but a near-fatal rallying accident in early 2011 put paid to any potential link-up with his friend and long-time rival at Ferrari.
Kubica did manage to make a remarkable return to Formula 1 later in the 2010s with Williams and Alfa Romeo, but did not achieve the same levels of success and acclaim than before his accident.
Robert Kubica assesses chances against Fernando Alonso at Ferrari
Alonso had been driving at his best at Ferrari, making the most of underwhelming machinery to put himself within touching distance of two World Championships in 2010 and 2012 respectively – admitting at the end of 2023 that the season just gone had been his best driving-wise since that second title near-miss against Sebastian Vettel.
Kubica will be driving a Ferrari next season, a 499P Hypercar for AF Corse in the World Endurance Championship after three class victories in LMP2 last year, but a Formula 1 drive with the Scuderia had appeared a real possibility at one stage.
The 39-year-old explained previously his belief that Alonso is the “strongest of everyone” in Formula 1, but believes the challenge of taking him on in equal machinery would not have been insurmountable.
“Me and Alonso at Ferrari? I have always respected Fernando and I still do,” Kubica told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“When we raced in F1 the esteem was mutual. It is often said that for a driver the team-mate is the first opponent to beat, but I’ve always thought that to win you have to beat everyone, including your team-mate.
“Beating Fernando in the same car would not have been difficult, I would have enjoyed the challenge anyway.
“We think alike on so many things and having two drivers who get along well in the box is an advantage for a team.
“Potentially we would have been a high-risk couple, but I think we would have actually done great things together. The scenario for the future was supposed to be this, when I had the accident, because in 2012 I was supposed to go to Ferrari where Fernando was.
“Then it didn’t happen, because life served me another scenario. But today I am as happy for this new adventure at Le Mans with the red car as I was when I signed for Ferrari back then.”
Likewise, Alonso has been full of praise for Kubica when speaking in public about him over the years, reasoning before that he was the best of his generation while rising up the ranks.
“I think it is because he won all the smaller categories,” Alonso said of the former BMW Sauber driver back in 2017.
“When the go-karts were the same, when the smaller categories, you run with the same single-seater, with the same car, he was beating all the generation that are winning now. So I think he’s the best.”