“I knew Robert from BMW, even before he was an F1 driver there. I'm a very strong believer that on pure speed and character he's one of the few that deserves a World Championship at some time,” Lopez was quoted as saying to SPEEDtv.com.
Kubica was very close to becoming world champion at only his second full season in Formula One, back in 2008, but his team's choice (BMW, at the time) to switch development on the 2009 car midway through that campaign has left him struggling for the entire second half of the season. Although leading the championship at one point and being close to championship contenders Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton with a few rounds to go, his poor-developed car did not give him any chance of fulfilling his dream.
It all came back to haunt BMW Sauber eventually, as the 2009 campaign was one of the worst ever experienced by the Swiss/German team in the series. After half of season, the German carmaker decided to quit Formula One and the team remained in the series as an independent organization.
Returning to Lopez, the new Renault F1 owner not only praised Kubica for his incredible racing capabilities, but also rookie driver Vitaly Petrov, who proved himself during the Chinese Grand Prix under rainy circumstances.
“I'm pleased with Vitaly, and how he recovered from a rookie mistake, when he spun out. Rain is a great leveller, and rain tells you a lot about drivers, because it levels the playing field much more. So the job he did was amazing in rain conditions,” added Lopez.