Robert Kubica's recent test of a 2012 Formula One car showed Renault "the pace is there" for a possible comeback to Formula One, according to the team's trackside operations director Alan Permane.
Last week Kubica completed 115 laps in a 2012-spec Lotus E20 in a test at Valencia's Ricardo Tormo circuit, arranged by Renault. The Pole had not driven an open cockpit car since his promising single-seater career was cut short when he suffered severe injuries to his right arm in a rally crash on the eve of the 2011 F1 season.
Kubica was tipped as a future world champion when he entered the sport in late 2006, claiming a podium on his second race in Italy and winning the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix for BMW Sauber. Following recent surgery which allowed him to complete his Valencia test he is now targeting a "proper comeback" to F1 and Renault is sure he would be competitive.
"I had no doubt on his pace, ever, at all," Permane told Poland's Eleven Sports about the test. "I did not know, and I don't think he knew, whether he would be able to drive physically -- and, more than that, be able to drive a lot.
"He's driven some things. He's driven simulators, he's driven a GP3 car earlier this year in preparation for this, but we didn't really know what his limitations would be. And, honestly, it went very well.
"He was quick. He did some long runs, he did some short runs, he did qualifying, we did race simulations and it all went very well."
Kubica, who has spent the years since his accident contesting various series including the World Rally Championship, clearly impressed Renault during the test. Permane feels Kubica needs to practice on circuits which place different demands on the body to ensure he would be able to compete at any F1 venue.
"From what I've seen from the statistics, from the data, the pace is there. That's for sure. All I would say is on that Tuesday in Valencia he done a fantastic job. There are many other circuits, and whether he has physical limitations on those, only he knows at the moment. If it needs to go any further, that would be the next step."