Here's wishing former - and possibly future - Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica a very happy 33rd birthday today, December 7.
The Polish driver made his Grand Prix début in 2006 (pictured above). It was the year after he won the Formula Renault 3.5 championship. As BMW Sauber's official reserve driver, he was pressed into action at Hungary after Jacques Villeneuve was sidelined with concussion-like symptoms. Kubica qualified in ninth place and finished the wet race in seventh. However, he was subsequently disqualified after his car was deemed underweight.
Even so, he'd impressed the team with his efforts. He stayed in the seat for the rest of the year, picking up his first podium on just his third race outing. He remained with the team for three full seasons after that and claimed his first win in Canada in 2008. In 2010 he moved to Renault and showed season-long consistency, including podiums at Monaco and Spa.
Over the following winter off-season, Kubica was keeping race-sharp by taking part in the Ronde di Andora rally. A serious crash left him with life-changing injuries to his right arm and hand. After intensive physiotherapy he was able to return to motor racing in ERC and WRC rallies. However, Formula 1 appeared to be out of the question.
That's all changed in 2017. Kubica has taken part in a series of tests to see if he's up to the role of full-time driver at Williams in 2017. He has stiff competition in the likes of Sergei Sirotkin, Paul di Resta, Pascal Wehrlein and Daniil Kvyat. Despite that, he remains the front-runner to take over from Felipe Massa.
If the fairy tale comeback were to happen, it would be one heck of a reason for the birthday boy to celebrate!