BMW has confirmed that Formula 1 star Robert Kubica will make a sensational switch to the DTM for the 2020 season.
The 35-year-old, who has maintained a close relationship with the Munich marque since his earliest days in grand prix racing, will race for new customer BMW team ART Grand Prix, it was announced at a press conference in his native Poland today.
After a stellar junior single-seater career, Kubica joined BMW Sauber in 2006, and immediately impressed. He won the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix – his and the team’s only grand prix victory – before joining Renault when the German manufacturer ended its F1 involvement at the end of 2009.
However, his F1 career was cut short by a catastrophic rallying accident in 2011. He suffered multiple fractures to his right hand, and spent years working to restore mobility to his arm ahead of a planned return to top-level single-seater racing.
In 2019, after a year of testing, he once again became a Formula 1 driver, making a fairytale return to the sport with Williams. Frustratingly, the season was blighted by poor performance, but Kubica remains a reserve driver – for Alfa Romeo – in 2020 and will dovetail this role with his race drive in the DTM.
Positive first impressions
The Pole tested for BMW at last December’s Young Driver test in Jerez, Spain, but wasn’t named as a candidate when the manufacturer revealed last week that it had signed South African Jonathan Aberdein to its six-car squad. Today’s surprise announcement that ART Grand Prix would run a privateer entry, means that Kubica joins Marco Wittmann, Timo Glock, Philipp Eng, Sheldon van der Linde, Lucas Auer, and Aberdein as a BMW-powered driver.
“The DTM has appealed to me for a long time,” explained Kubica. “And the test in December in Jerez really gave me a taste for more. I believe the DTM is one of the strongest and best racing series in the world. Obviously, we still have to gain experience compared to the established DTM teams, but we’ll work hard to ensure we improve all the time. I can hardly wait to get started!”
Marquardt: ‘A real asset to the series’
BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt added: “This is really great news for the DTM. It has always been our goal to grow the DTM field with a privately-run BMW M4 DTM; and, after many discussions, we opted for the package provided by ART Grand Prix. Robert showed during last December’s test that he is very good in a DTM car. He’ll be a real asset to the series.”
ART Grand Prix team principal Sébastien Philippe said: “We’ve put a lot of energy into this project over the winter. We’ll help Robert to write a new page in his already incredibly rich motorsport career. Our objectives will be modest at the start of the season, but I hope we’ll make progress to fight with the frontrunners.”
ITR chairman Gerhard Berger added: “We’re absolutely delighted to have a driver of the calibre and prestige of Robert join the DTM – he will be a fantastic addition. In fact, our series has had a long and illustrious history of attracting F1 drivers – including race winners such as Mika Hakkinen, Keke Rosberg and David Coulthard – and Robert’s arrival maintains that tradition.
“As his grand prix predecessors have each discovered, the DTM is fantastically competitive and no easy challenge. That said, I’m absolutely sure that Robert will very quickly prove himself in DTM, and that he will be an invaluable component of BMW’s exciting 2020 driver line-up.
“We all look forward to seeing him in action.”