Robert Kubica's chances of completing a remarkable comeback to Formula One appear to be fizzling out.
Hopes of a return for the Pole, whose F1 career was abruptly ended by a 2011 rally crash, were raised by a series of tests for Renault earlier this year, culminating in a full day behind the wheel of the team's 2017 car the week after this year's Hungarian Grand Prix. Renault's decision to sign Carlos Sainz for 2018 ended his chances of returning with the Enstone outfit, though replacing Felipe Massa -- who is yet to sign an extension into next year -- at Williams remains an option.
Kubica recently enlisted the services of reigning world champion and former Williams driver Nico Rosberg to manage his comeback bid, but the 31-year-old believes the odds are still stacked against him.
"I am very realistic and I know that the possibility of my returning full-time to racing in Formula One is very slight," Kubica told FIA magazine Auto. "Every day, I discover my new limits, but I have always hoped that I'd at least get the chance to give it a go.
"I've done a lot of kilometres in the simulator and I've driven in other categories, but I knew that only driving a Formula One car would give me those special feelings again and that proved to be true."
Kubica is widely regarded by his peers as one of the finest drivers of the modern era, with both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton certain he would have won world championships without his injury. His Ronde di Andora accident cut short a career which appeared to be on the verge of a move to one of the sport's big teams and Kubica admits it is still difficult to dwell on the career he lost.
"Life had given me so much and then, in an instant, it took it all away. They say time is a healer but that wasn't the case for me -- in fact it made me suﬀer more.
"At first I thought I'd get full functionality back quite quickly, but that didn't happen and the improvement I was hoping for didn't come. It was tough, but I realised I had to accept it. Once I managed that, I was able to embark on a new chapter."
"The accident turned my life upside down, but I'm aware that a few centimetres more and I wouldn't be here talking about it. The biggest job I had to do was in my own head.
"There were some terrible times in which I no longer felt up to it. It was worse than a physical pain, but now I can finally feel at peace with myself, because I'm back to being who I was -- a Formula One driver."