Robert Kubica’s retirement from the Russian Grand Prix was one of expediency and while his sponsor was making noises in the press about the reasoning after a tweet by Joanna Zakrzewska, spokesperson for Kubica’s sponsor PKN Orlen:
“Following the retirement of Robert Kubica from Sunday’s Russian GP, we have officially asked the ROKiT Williams Racing team for an explanation.
“Based on that we will take steps to enforce contractual obligations.”
That doesn’t sound like a happy sponsor to me but things are actually much more challenging for Williams. As much as Robert’s sponsor may not like the actions taken, the mere fact that the team had to retire Robert’s car so they would have enough parts to participate in Japan is either sadly true or an odd reason given to cover for a more even more odd situation. I’ve no reason not to take them at their word but it does seem strange.
Williams clarified their position in a statement:
“We found an issue with the wheelnut retainer on George’s car, which led to the front-right wheel not sitting perfectly,” said senior race engineer Dave Robson.
“This caused a lock-up under braking.
“The design is very mature and well-proven. The remaining inventory will be inspected thoroughly, and we do not anticipate a repeat of the issue.
“Unfortunately, we were forced to retire Robert’s car due to the amount of accident damage we have sustained in the Singapore-Russia back-to-back races in order to protect ourselves going into the next events.
“The team has worked extremely hard to ensure race quantities have improved ahead of Japan and the final races.”
If true, this is yet another example of living on F1 prize money and the lack of serious sponsorship in the sport. I’ve argued a long time that if the teams can’t get significant sponsors to the sport, then the sport isn’t appealing enough, exciting enough or someone isn’t doing a very effective job at sales.
Perhaps break even is all that is needed for a lifestyle company so relying heavily on F prize money to support your back-of-the-field team is perfectly fine as long as payroll is made, the heat and AC are working and lights come on.
The entire situation is strange and if I were Robert’s sponsor, I might ask for clarification too.
Hat Tip: Autosport