The Renault driver was airlifted to hospital and has undergone surgery to repair multiple fractures to his right leg, arm and hand, which will rule him out of the start of the 2011 championship season.
The Pole was at the wheel of a Super 2000 Skoda Fabia when it is believed that he clipped the wall of a church and then hit a crash barrier on the first stage of the rally – in which he was competing with Renault’s permission shortly after having posted the fastest time of the first pre-season test at Valencia.
Sources at the event report that it took over an hour before a specialist emergency extraction team could get to the area to rescue the Pole.
There are also unconfirmed reports that his injuries stemmed from the end of the crash barrier penetrating the footwell of the car, which would explain why his injuries are on his right-hand-side instead of the (more logical) left-hand – or door-side – of his body.
Video news reports following the crash would certainly support this theory.
Kubica was transferred to the Santa Corona Hospital in Pietra Ligur and, at the time of publishing, a spokesperson from Renault has confirmed that the surgery – specifically concentrating on his hand and its bloody supply – has just been completed.
While his injuries are not life-threatening and the hospital has confirmed that it has ruled out any drastic action such as the amputation of his hand, it remains to be seen how long any recovery period could take or even if he will have full use of the injured hand.
“They have restarted the circulation of blood and repaired the bone structure. Now they have to think about the muscle functionality but Robert has a very strong character, he’ll be OK.”
In good news, however, Kubica’s co-driver Jakub Gerber was unhurt in the accident.
Renault is known to have a relatively relaxed policy in allowing their drivers to participate in activities outside of Formula 1, and this is the first serious incident that Kubica – who has contested multiple rallies with considerable success in the last couple of years – has suffered.
It is generally rare in this era for Formula 1 drivers to actively participate in other disciplines outside of Formula 1, with teams often placing strict conditions in their contracts to prevent injuries that could prevent them from competing.
Earlier times have seen Formula 1 drivers assume a more multi-disciplined approach in motorsport, and this has equally not made them immune from the inherent risks of high-speed competition.
In all likelihood, Renault will call on its primary reserve driver, Bruno Senna, to fill in for Kubica in the short-term, but the outfit may look for a more experienced driver in the event that Kubica’s lay-off looks set to be extended. Renault is yet to confirm the next steps it will take, according to team boss Eric Boullier.
“Robert is someone we like a lot. It is extremely sad. We are all really shocked,” he said.
“It is too early and impolite to think of a replacement driver. We are waiting for news of Robert and how long he will be out of action before we think of taking such a decision.”