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Fears that Kubica's injuries could be career-ending

Martin Williamson February 7, 2011 « Chandhok to try out for Lotus | »
Robert Kubica's manager Daniele Morelli talks to journalists at Santa Corona hospital ... he told them: 'Robert has strong character and he will make it' © Associated Press

Robert Kubica will be out of action for up to a year following his crash in a rally event in Italy. However, it is possible the injuries he suffered may bring down the curtain on his Formula One career.

Prof Igor Rossello, director for the regional centre of hand surgery at San Paolo Hospital in Savona who operated on Kubica at the Santa Corona hospital, said the lengthy operation involved the "reconstruction [of] the whole anatomy of the forearm". He continued that while the operation on Kubica's badly-damaged hand had gone well, the next five to seven days were crucial as it was in that period that things could still go wrong.

"It has been a very important and difficult operation," he said. "Robert's right forearm was cut in two places, with significant lesions to the bones and the tendons. We did our best to rebuild the functions of the forearm, [but] it took seven doctors, split into two teams, and a total of seven hours to complete the operation.

"At the end of the operation, Robert's hand was well vascularised and warm, which is encouraging. Following the surgery, Robert will remain under permanent monitoring overnight because his condition remains serious."

If the operation is unsuccessful or only partially works, then he may be left with limited functionality and feeling in his hand. At a time drivers are being asked to press more and more buttons on the steering wheel, this would be very serious.

Kubica's wrecked Skoda after his rally accident © Associated Press
The fractures will heal, although given Kubica already has titanium bolts in his left arm following an accident in 2003 there may well be complications. But tendon damage is much harder and there is also no means of speeding his recovery.

It now seems clear Kubica will not race this season. But the real fear is that he may not return at all.

Many drivers have restrictions in their contracts as to what they can do off track in terms of risky sports or hobbies. Renault did not ban Kubica from rallying as being able to continue was a key part of any contract for him.

As recently as November, Kubica's manager Daniele Morelli said the big teams such as "McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes wouldn't allow it".

Questions will be asked why he was allowed to drive in this event, coming as it did in between the first two testing sessions for the coming season. How Renault must be wishing it had been a little more insistent.