Ex-F1 racer Kubica to drive for BMW at DTM rookie test
|By Tom Errington||Thursday, December 5th 2019, 16:07 GMT|
Ex-Williams Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica will drive for BMW in the upcoming DTM rookie test at Jerez in December.
Kubica, who has been replaced by Nicholas Latifi at Williams for 2020 following a challenging F1 comeback season, has already outlined his ambition to combine an F1 simulator role with a racing programme elsewhere.
As revealed by Autosport earlier this year, Kubica's management had been in touch with Audi as it evaluated his post-F1 future, but Audi motorsport boss Dieter Gass has since indicated the manufacturer is likely to retain its line-up for 2020.
- More on Kubica's DTM links
- Kubica set to combine F1 test role with DTM race seat
- Kubica admits DTM an option for 2020
- Audi admits to talks with Kubica's management
But BMW, which lost to Audi in all three titles in 2019, is undergoing a review of its structure and driver line-up, potentially opening the door to a race seat after Kubica indicated a DTM switch was likely.
Kubica has tested a DTM car before, having driven a V8-powered Mercedes in 2013 in a test that impressed the manufacturer.
"I would like to thank BMW Motorsport for the opportunity to test at Jerez with the BMW M4 DTM," said Kubica, who raced for BMW Sauber in F1 between 2006 and '09.
"I am already very much looking forward to the test and to getting to know the DTM race car with its turbo engine. I can well imagine a future in the DTM.
"I am looking for a new challenge, and the DTM is certainly just that. The series has a top-class field and the standard of driving is extremely high. However, we must first wait and see how I get on at the test."
BMW motorsport boss Jens Marquardt added: "We are delighted to offer the opportunity to Robert Kubica to take part in the Jerez test.
"Robert is a big name on the international motor racing scene, with a lot of experience in high-class series like Formula 1.
"We are now very intrigued to see how he gets on in his test at the wheel of a touring car - our BMW M4 DTM."
Autosport understands Kubica could also potentially test for the customer WRT Audi squad. A WRT spokesperson told Autosport it would announce its programme next week.
Audi is keen that ex-Formula 3 European Championship racer Jonathan Aberdein remains close to the brand after a promising first year in the DTM, though Haas development driver Pietro Fittipaldi's future looks less clear, despite his interest in remaining in the series.
Privateer team WRT requires drivers with financial backing, making Kubica - who brought around €15million to Williams in 2019 - an attractive candidate.
Kubica's main backer PKN Orlen is an additional factor that has to be considered as the company wishes to remain in F1 in some format.
The DTM driver market has remained quiet so far, with R-Motorsport Aston Martin still working on the make-up of its 2020 programme, Audi expected to retain its line-up and BMW still undertaking its structural review.
Nick Yelloly will also test alongside Kubica on December 10-13.
Jones headlines Audi test line-up
Audi has revealed a line-up of seven drivers for Jerez this month, with sometime IndyCar driver Ed Jones headlining the rookie contingent.
Jones, who competed for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2019 following his exit from Chip Ganassi Racing, will drive the Audi RS5 DTM in the Jerez test.
Aberdein has also been selected after an encouraging debut season that has put him in good stead for a future with the manufacturer.
They will be joined in the Audi line-up by factory driver and ADAC Masters champion Kelvin van der Linde and 19-year-old Robin Rogalski, who won the 2019 Audi Sport Seyffarth R8 LMS Cup.
FIA Formula 3 Championship driver Fabio Scherer will also drive for Audi, having been linked to a DTM drive over the off-season.
DTM champion Rene Rast and his title rival Nico Muller will also drive for Audi during the test.