Photo via @RenaultSportF1

Renault's Permane cautious but Kubica targets F1 return

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Long-time Renault engineer and now trackside operations director Alan Permane is urging caution over a potential Robert Kubica comeback in Formula 1 despite a successful test last week.

The Polish driver returned to the cockpit of an F1 car for the first time since his near-fatal crash at the Andorra Rally in early 2011, an incident that left Kubica is severe right arm injuries.

Driving a 2012 Lotus E20, now run under the Renault name, the now 32-year-old managed 115 laps on the Ricardo Torno circuit in Valencia, as he completed a full weekend simulation in just one day.

"From what I've seen from the statistics, from the data, the pace is there. That's for sure," Permane said talking to Poland's Eleven Sports.

"I had no doubt on his pace, ever, at all [before the test], I did not know, I don't think he knew, whether he would be able to drive physically... and, more than that, be able to drive a lot.

"He's driven some things," he continued. "He's driven simulators, he's driven a GP3 car earlier this year in preparation for this, but we didn't really know what his limitations would be. And, honestly, it went very well. He was quick. He did some long runs, he did some short runs, he did qualifying, we did race simulations and it all went very well."

Though impressed by how easily Kubica settled back in, Permane admits there is still a lot of hurdles in the way of a full-time return.

"On that Tuesday in Valencia, he did a fantastic job. However, there are many other circuits and whether he has physical limitations on those, only he knows at the moment," he said.

"If it needs to go any further, that would be the next step."

As for the man himself, Kubica, who's only race win in F1 came at the Canadian Grand Prix nine years ago, says he is now working towards having one last stint on the grid.

"I don't know what it will bring," he said to Sky Sports of the Valencia test, "but definitely it's a nice feeling to know I can drive an F1 car after such a difficult period and having my limitations.

"To know I can drive the car and I can drive the car at a good pace and for an entire Grand Prix distance is something which makes me happy and proud.

"I would like to test more," he admitted. "It doesn't depend only on my side, but I will keep working and hopefully one day I will have a chance to go forward and step-by-step maybe have a proper comeback."