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Kubica's 2019 F1 return pleases a relieved Hamilton

Updated: 2018-11-23 09:34
Robert Kubica, Williams Racing, talks to the press during the Abu Dhabi GP at Yas Marina Circuit in Yas Marina Circuit, United Arab Emirates, on Nov 22, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Robert Kubica's return to Formula One is something of a relief for world champion Lewis Hamilton.

The 33-year-old Kubica announced on Thursday he will be racing for the Williams team next year, a remarkable comeback considering Kubica almost lost his right hand in a rally accident in 2011.

"Is Robert older than me?" Hamilton joked at a news conference.

When informed Kubica is indeed older than Hamilton, by one month, Hamilton beamed a smile.

"I'm so glad he's coming back. I was going to be the second oldest driver, but now I'm going to be the third," Hamilton said. "I can't tell you how happy I am about that." Resuming on a serious note, the five-time world champion spoke of his high regard for Kubica, an old rival from way back.

"I raced Robert from karting days. He was one of the most talented drivers I've had the pleasure of racing against," Hamilton said. "He had a really difficult time the last few years and it's great he's got the opportunity. I hope he works hard on his strength and getting his mind back into gear. It's exciting for the sport to see him back in action."

With the 37-year-old Fernando Alonso retiring from F1 after Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Kubica will be the second oldest on the grid next year behind 39-year-old Kimi Raikkonen.

Alonso, a two-time F1 champion, called Kubica "one of the great talents." He added a note of caution.

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