LONDON (Reuters) - Older and wiser is how a delighted Robert Kubica described himself as he returned to Formula One when he joined his much younger Williams team mates at a pre-season presentation on Thursday.
The 33-year-old former race winner, who left the sport after partially severing his right forearm in a 2011 rally crash in Italy, has a new role as the British team’s reserve and development driver.
That will entail taking part in three Friday first free practice sessions at grands prix as well as carrying out testing duties and working in their simulator at the factory.
Kubica said the first practice outing would be the Spanish Grand Prix in May, then Austria in July and a third probably at the end of the season in Abu Dhabi.
“A lot of things have changed since when I was young like this,” the Pole told reporters, standing alongside Canadian teenager Lance Stroll and the team’s 22-year-old Russian newcomer Sergey Sirotkin.
“Twelve years ago I was the first time on the drivers’ presentation in Valencia. I was 21. Experience is good. I have a lot more knowledge than when I was 21,” he added.
“I thought when I was young that I knew everything, but life teaches you a lot. I’m very happy to be here.”
The former BMW-Sauber and Renault driver had at one point last year looked favourite for the 2018 race seat, with retired former Williams driver and champion Nico Rosberg lending his assistance, but in the end Sirotkin won out.
Kubica, whose arm is noticeably thin and twisted, has not raced in Formula One since 2010.
“Of course I would prefer to be here as a race driver but if you look at it from a different perspective, and you see where I was 12 months ago, nobody thought I would be in a position to drive an F1 car,” he said.
“It has been a long journey, seven years away from the F1 paddock, so the feeling will be a bit different.
“There will be a lot of emotions going to grands prix ... visiting the places that gave me a lot in my life will be a special moment.”
The season starts in Australia on March 25.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury