ROBERT Kubica admits Sunday’s opener in Melbourne will be a special moment as he makes his return to racing in Formula 1.

The Pole suffered a partially severed right arm in a rallying crash seven years ago.

But he will line-up on the grid at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix for the Grove-based Williams team.

Kubica previously spent five seasons in F1 between 2006-2010, finishing on the podium 12 times and claiming one victory.

And the 34-year-old, who was Williams’ test driver last year, is under no illusions about the challenges he will face in his first race back.

He said: “It will be a very emotional grand prix.

“It is the second debut for me after being away from the sport for many years.

“My last Formula 1 race was in Abu Dhabi 2010, so I am looking forward to going to Australia with a few things to cover and learn.”

Williams finished last in the constructors’ standings in 2018 and are already playing catch-up after missing the first two days of pre-season testing.

But that has not dampened rookie George Russell’s enthusiasm.

He said: “I am extremely excited for Melbourne. It will be my first race in Formula One and it is a dream come true.”

Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo is excited to be making his Renault debut.

It is set to be a special weekend for the 29-year-old, who joined the Enstone-based team from Red Bull, as Melbourne is his home race.

After months of preparation and a fortnight of testing, Ricciardo cannot wait for starter’s orders.

He said: “It’s an exciting thought that my first race for Renault is my home grand prix.

“There’s always so much hype at the start of the Formula 1 season, and this has been amplified by me joining a new team.”

The west Oxfordshire outfit finished fourth in the constructors’ standings last season and Nico Hulkenberg is expecting a tough year.

He said: “The midfield will always be competitive, but we focus on ourselves, stay on top of things and ensure our developments give us improvements.”

Banbury-prepared Haas finished fifth last season.

New rules have been introduced, including simplified front and rear wings, in order to create more exciting racing.

But driver Romain Grosjean is unsure whether it will work.

“I don’t know. I haven’t had the chance to follow another car yet,” he said.

“Australia is always a race where there’s very little overtaking. It’s just the nature of the circuit.”

Teammate Kevin Magnussen added: “I have a feeling we’ll see an improvement in the ability to follow.

“But whether the quality of the races is going to be better for that reason, that’s a different question. We’ll see about that.”