Robert Kubica's return to Formula One after suffering severe injuries in a crash eight years ago has been praised by rival Daniel Ricciardo ahead of the 2019 season.
Kubica was forging a reputation for himself after impressive seasons with Sauber and Renault before an accident while taking part in a rally in Andorra in 2011, the Pole damaging his arms and legs in the crash.
After racing in the World Rally Championship, Kubica began testing for Renault in 2017 and was a contender for a Williams drive last season. Williams opted for Lance Stroll instead but, with the Canadian moving on to Racing Point for 2019, Kubica was handed his chance.
And Ricciardo is delighted to see the 34-year-old back on the grid after overcoming such adversity.
Speaking at Thursday's prerace media conference in Melbourne, Ricciardo said: "Robert mentioned that he's had a pretty long winter break. I don't think we all know to the extent of what he's been through to get back here, so I just think it's awesome to see him back.
"I've known him from when I moved to Europe back in 2007 which feels like a long time but yes, just a testament to his character and I won't ask for everyone to applaud but I really think it's awesome for him to be here. We can applaud, yes."
The media room – including fellow drivers Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen – duly joined Ricciardo in applauding Kubica, who admitted he has no time to dwell on the emotional aspect of his return given Williams' preseason problems.
"Yes, it has been a long time, a long time away from the sport," he said. "Emotions… to be honest there is not really a lot of time to think about them, you are focused on the job, focused on the things to do. Try to learn as much as you can about new F1.
"Things have changed quite a lot since I was racing here last time. Just trying to prepare; trying to be ready. We didn't have the perfect start to winter testing, so there are a lot of things to be checked, to see how they will be and yes, let's see."