ABU DHABI -- Robert Kubica will race for Williams for the 2019 Formula One season, completing his remarkable return to single-seater racing.
Williams confirmed the news on Thursday, putting Kubica back on an F1 grid for the first time since 2010. The Polish driver's career had been interrupted by injuries he sustained in a rallying accident on the eve of the 2011 season that had kept him sidelined since.
The crash left him with a partially severed right arm, although he avoided having it amputated. The injury hampered the mobility in his hand, making it difficult for him to turn a steering wheel.
Hopes of a comeback appeared to have faded until last year when, after multiple surgeries, he was able to complete several highly publicised tests for Renault, the team he had been signed to in 2011, and Williams. He failed to secure a race seat with either team but was kept on with Williams in a testing capacity, competing at two Friday practice session this year.
Kubica, 33, has never given up his goal of returning to a race seat. He admits to still having physical limitations stemming from his 2011 crash, but he has learned how to drive around them. He has done enough to convince Williams he can still race competitively, and next year he will partner with a rookie driver, newly crowned Formula Two champion George Russell.
"I would like to thank everyone who has helped me during what was a difficult period of my life over these last few years," Kubica said. "It has been a challenging journey to make it back to the Formula One grid, but what seemed almost impossible is now beginning to feel possible, as I am excited to be able to say that I will be on the Formula One grid in 2019.
"For sure, it has been a long road to get to this point, but as that challenge now comes to an end with this announcement, a new challenge begins working with Williams on track. It will not be easy, but with hard work and dedication, both George and myself will work together to try and help the team get in better shape to move further up the grid. This year has been tough, but I have learnt a lot, and I'd like to thank Sir Frank and Claire [Williams] for this opportunity.
"Being back on the F1 grid next season will be one of the greatest achievements of my life, and I'm sure with hard work and commitment we will be able to help motivate the team to achieve good things together. Thank you again to everyone who has supported me and believed in me. I will finally be back on the grid behind the wheel of an F1 car, and I cannot wait to get back racing."
Deputy team boss Claire Williams praised the work Kubica had done with Williams this year.
"I am delighted to announce that Robert will be stepping up to the role of Race Driver to partner George in 2019," she said. "All of us at Williams have been immensely impressed at what he has achieved, and it is a great credit to his strength of character and tenacity to return to Formula One.
"During this season his commitment to the team and the work he has put in behind the scenes has been unwavering, and he has become an established and much respected member of the Williams team. He has a level of determination that is remarkable to see, and he truly embodies the Williams fighting spirit. Having the consistency of Robert stepping up into this new role will be an important step for us as we look to fight our way back towards the front of the field.
"I am also excited to have a mixture of youth and experience to lead us into 2019 and we look forward to seeing what they can achieve on track."