The headlines last season may have been dominated by the five-way battle for the Drivers Championship, but if the competition were based on pure talent, Robert Kubica would definitely have a shot.
As the season progressed, he out-drove the shortcomings of his mediocre Renault, and at one point, looked to be the best of the rest. Essentially, his points tally did not reflect the comparative individual performance he possessed.
Oddly, it was in the aftermath of his Canadian accident in 2007 when he began to prove himself. Whilst he did not follow the playboy stakes like Lewis Hamilton, he was regularly regarded as one of the greatest in the world.
He consistently qualified on the first two rows of the grid and gained a fortunate, but deserved, debut triumph in his return to Montreal.
This season, he was to continue with Renault in an attempt to continue the form that had transformed his career.
Some wondered why he remained at a team that was not giving the Pole a reflection of his raw pace. Others admired his decision to remain loyal and be determined to spearhead and evolve with the team. Based on his credentials, you could sense a follow up to Michael Schumacher's transformation of Bennetton in the mid '90s.
For many, Kubica was a champion in waiting. Maybe he would have been if BMW continued to provide a decent machine in 2008.
Yet now it may never happen. His rallying accident, leaving one of his arms partially severed, could put pay to that. He could be the new Felipe Massa.
Such an obvious tragedy being born out of a life-threatening accident is being heralded as the worst possible outcome.
Hopefully, his recovery in the next few months can mirror the likes of Alessandro Zanardi, who continues to compete despite the loss of both legs. Kubica did, after all, gain much of his current status through his immediate revelation after his Canadian crash.
This season, we'll see a driver replace Kubica, but there will be an evident void on the track in a way that can only devalue the overall quality of the field. The sooner Kubica returns the better.
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