F1 2019 Preview: Is Robert Kubica's return about to be wasted?

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The return of Robert Kubica to Formula 1 grid, without doubt, one of the great stories of recent years.

Eight years after a burgeoning career appeared to be tragically cut short by a devastating rally crash, he has defied the odds to once again sit on the grid in Melbourne.

Certainly, his comeback has rejuvenated Polish interest as an army of red and white flags follow Kubica where ever he goes.

However, despite all the positivity, it is very hard to overlook the situation he is entering with Williams, a team who's decline is continuing.

Last year, a flawed car left them trailing at the back, going on to only score seven points in what was possibly the worst season in their 40-year plus history.

It was hoped 2018 might be a one-off and their level of competitiveness would start improving in 2019, but it hasn't, certainly not initially.

A grand old team with so much success to their name failed to make pre-season testing on time and will start firmly at the back with work to do simply to catch the rest.

Williams has refused to confirm the causes, only that it was many and requires a lot of work to put right for next year which only highlights the mismanagement that has taken place.

This was a team which, four years ago, was keeping Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull on their toes and now appears on a level equivalent to HRT or Caterham when they were just starting in F1 at the start of the decade.

Technical director Paddy Lowe has taken a leave of absence as a result, but he can't take the blame having only stepped in in 2017 and tried to introduce changes which have worked so successfully at McLaren and Mercedes before.

If he is shown the door, that would be a massive mistake by Williams, who instead need to use his talent to repair their failing structure.

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In a month or so, the situation hopefully will be different, everything will be in place and the team can start making progress with the car and on addressing their problems.

The reason I focused this on Kubica though is, at the moment, it's hard to see when the upward trend will start given the teams they are chasing.

Williams will be looking to catch the likes of Toro Rosso, Alfa Romeo, Racing Point and McLaren but all of these have the potential to develop strongly at a pace which the team at Grove might not exceed.

That means 2019 is already looking like a year when matching the seven-point total from last season could be a challenge regardless of the drivers' performance.

While his teammate George Russell has more years both at Williams and in F1, Kubica is only guaranteed one year and the thought of his last stint in F1 consisting of running at the back would be cruel after his effort to come back at all.