Robert Kubica made his first appearance at a Grand Prix since Abu Dhabi in 2010 when he popped up in the paddock during Friday practice at Monza.
Some of the rumours of a potential return have died down a little since he tested current F1 machinery in the Hungary test, but his appearance at Monza has set tongues wagging again.
However, Kubica’s manager, Alessandro Alunni Bravi, said that there’s no hidden agenda behind his presence. He told Motorsport.com:
“Robert was just here to say hello to some friends. Because he’s never come back to the paddock during a race weekend, he just did Hungary, which was out of a grand prix weekend. So it was a good opportunity for him. He has no problem to come back to the F1 paddock. For him it’s very natural to be here, to say hello to some friends. There was no other purpose for this visit.
“People are pushing him, showing him how much they would like him to come back to F1. This is an extra boost. He’s very happy to listen to all the positive comments and to see all the people pleased to see him here.”
Some of the speculation surrounding his future was fuelled by the fact that he wasn’t wearing any Renault gear in the Monza paddock, but Bravi insisted that it’s just down to the fact his decision to go was a last-minute one:
“There is no strategy. Robert decided to come here at the last moment, nothing was planned, and there is nothing behind the scenes, I would say. He was just happy to jump into the paddock. We are so thankful to Renault for the opportunity they gave.
“I think that everybody saw what Robert can do, and I don’t think the paddock is the right place to speak to people. He’s just relaxing, not thinking about F1, not thinking about meetings.”
He did however confirm that other teams had shown an interest in Robert, also saying that the Polish driver feels he’d be ready to make an F1 comeback if the opportunity presented itself.
“For sure the result of the test was much more positive than everyone was expecting, also in the F1 paddock. So there is some interest around him, in F1, out of F1.
“He’s happy, relaxed, and as we always said, we go step-by-step. The test with Renault in Hungary was very positive, in terms of performance, in terms of consistency. Robert had a very good feeling. What we can say after the test is that now Robert has no doubts, and he can drive an F1 car without limitations.
“The next step is still unknown. We are still looking around, and trying to understand which is the best step for him. We have no rush, because there will be no more tests until the end of the season.”
So, exactly which other teams might be interested? Williams? Maybe McLaren? Either way it adds a little bit of intrigue to the driver market.
Just when you think the hype train is running out of steam, it chugs back into life again.