(Reuters) – Poland’s Robert Kubica will continue as a reserve driver for Alfa Romeo next season, the Swiss-based Formula One team said on Wednesday.
The 36-year-old former racer will be a stand-in should Valtteri Bottas, who is joining from Mercedes, or Chinese rookie Guanyu Zhou become unavailable.
Kubica has already raced twice this year, in the Netherlands and Italy, as a replacement for departing Finnish veteran Kimi Raikkonen when the 2007 world champion tested positive for COVID-19.
Team boss Frederic Vasseur told Reuters recently that Alfa were likely to have several drivers available as reserves.
French teenager Theo Pourchaire is under contract with Swiss-based Sauber, who run the team, and will do some Friday practice sessions while also competing in Formula Two.
“Next year will be again difficult with 23 races, plus the simulator plus the Pirelli test… I think at the end to have two or three reserves is not too much,” said Vasseur.
“With COVID, you need to have someone at the track (as a reserve). But if you want to do all the races and you can’t do the simulator, you need to have two or three reserve drivers.”
Polish oil refiner and co-title sponsor Orlen, which has backed Kubica, has also renewed and extended its partnership with Alfa for 2022.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, Editing by Shrivathsa Sridhar)